FOUR YEARS AGO

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

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staycation

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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Fearless

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You probably know by now that I have a daughter, who recently turned 2. Her name is Sienna.

God has blessed her in many, many ways. She is genetically gifted (she’s gorgeous). She’s funny. She’s spunky. She’s pugnacious. She’s tall (over 3 feet). She loves to eat. She loves to sleep.

But what you may not know is that this girl is f.e.a.r.l.e.s.s.

This point has been driven home as of late.

Some recent examples:

1) She insisted on going down a 50′ spiraled water slide, by herself, head first, the very first time we took her to the pool. She went completely underwater, bobbed right up, with her toothy smile, and shouted, “Again!” And then she climbed out of the water, and marched right over to the long spiraled staircase, elbowing the older kids out of the way to get to the top. I just stood in the pool, at the bottom of the slide, aghast.

2) At her gymnastics class, she does belly flops into the foam pit, while the older kids delicately climb in.

3) At her tumbling gym, she climbs head first into a tall bucket, no idea what’s inside the bucket. Her little legs sticking straight up in the air.

4) At the park, if you look away for even a second, she has run into the forest, and lain down in the brush so you can’t see her. And when you find her to try and scold her, she just looks up at you, giggling amongst the weeds.

5) If Brae so much as breathes wrong on her, she kicks her foot into his face.

6) She prefers to drink water from the dog’s bowl.

7) She eats bugs.

8) She rolls in dirt.

9) During snacktime, when another kid isn’t looking, she has traded her empty milk carton for his full one, and has taken a bite of his sandwich.

10) She puts on her shoes, throws her sparkly doggy purse over her shoulder, and walks out the front door without even saying ‘goodbye.’

I know that, channeled correctly, these are envious traits that will serve her well in life. However, as a toddler, my fearless daughter has stricken fear into the heart of her mother. It makes me wonder, Did 10 years frozen in a test tube incite this balls-to-the wall zest for life? I may never know.

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An unexpected closure

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I received an email yesterday that provided me some unexpected closure in a certain area of my life.

You may recall that with Sienna, we had backup donors. They had four “top grade” embryos. Since we were doing open adoptions, I got to know not only Sienna’s donors, but our backup donors as well. We actually became friends and have remained in communication for nearly two years now.

After our success with Sienna, we decided to lovingly return the backup embryos to NEDC. It was an excruciatingly difficult decision. As badly as I wanted to adopt them, my husband and I were just not at the same page at that time with keeping them. We felt that until we were unified in that decision, the right thing to do was to return them in the hopes they would be released from limbo.

Months went by and these embryos still were not adopted. That puzzled me, because I knew they were of such a high grade, but I also know that open adoptions are less common than anonymous, so perhaps that was the reason.

About a year later, the embryos were adopted. They were again the “backup embryos.” And, again, the couple got pregnant with their “first try” embryos. And, again, that couple lovingly returned the backup embryos to NEDC.

After I learned this, I approached my husband again with the possibility of adopting these embryos back. And that’s when he told me that he just did not feel led to do that, and instead felt led toward adopting through our state.

Heartbreakingly, I told our backup donors that it was just not meant to be for us, but that I would continue to pray over these embryos, and their fate.

During all this time, these backup donors remained steadfastly positive about the fate of their precious embryos, knowing that they would be released at the right time, and to the right couple.

A few months ago, they were adopted by a third couple. Recently, the four were thawed, and three survived and were transferred.

No pregnancy resulted.

I’m shocked.

I’m shocked because it’s just a simple reminder that God is in control of life from beginning to end. Not even the very best in medical technology, science, or the most brilliant and careful doctors and staff can ensure the beginning of life. Life remains the province of our Creator.

I also feel a sense of comfort and peace. Comfort for our backup donors that they now feel some rest, knowing the fate of those children. Comfort that God, as painful as it was, steered us away from re-adopting those embryos, which, knowing their fate, would have caused us more heartache and pain.

And peace, knowing that for that third adopting couple, while they no doubt are experiencing the heartache and pain of a failed attempt, that God still put this desire in their hearts, and He will be faithful to fulfill it, or take it away.

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To My Daughter, on her 2nd Birthday

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Dear Sienna,

Whenever you read this, whether it’s ten years from now reading it for the first time, or seventy years from now, after I’m long gone, I want you to know these certain truths about you, and never forget them.

1. I love you. I love everything about you. From how your eyes turn into crescent moons when you smile big, to the frown on your brow when you don’t get your way. I love it all.

2. You will never lose my love. I know there will come a day when you slam the door in my face, when you curse my name, and maybe tell me you wish I wasn’t your mom. I’ve steeled myself for that day, and I want you to know now, before it even happens, that I will love you still.

3. You are wanted. Mommy and Daddy longed and ached for you, for years. God moved mountains to bring you into this world, to create you, and to bring you to us. So when that first boy breaks your heart, or you get that first grade you didn’t deserve, or you don’t get the job of your dreams, know that you will forever and always have parents who want you still.

4. Your brother loves you. You are his favorite play thing. You two were meant to be siblings. He adores you. He always asks about you. He gets the biggest smile whenever you are around. He wants to steal your toys just as often as he wants to share his food with you. He wants a reaction out of you – whatever it is. He delights in you. Just remember that the next time that he makes you angry.

5. You are beautiful. You are a gift. A treasure. You are a child of God, on loan to us.

Daughter, we will do our best to raise you in these truths. Please know that although we will mess up in raising you, we really are trying, and we really do want the very best for you.

You are my child. My firstborn daughter. My beloved.

Happy birthday, honey pie.

Love,

Mommy
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TEE BALL aka HERDING CATS

We recently started tee ball.  It’s been a long time coming.  I signed the kids up in March and didn’t realize how long that was for a three year old to wait.  Grant has been excitedly telling people about playing tee ball since I registered them.  We recently had orientation and their first practice.  Grant was all in and Maria declined to participate, which didn’t really surprise me.  Our coaches (volunteers, who are likely atoning for past sins) said not to be concerned if some kids decided they didn’t want to play or wanted one of their parents right next to them.  These are three year olds and often the exercise is more akin to herding cats than anything.

Our first game was June 1 and again Grant was all in.  Maria agreed to practice and did throw the ball to her coach and practiced batting, but when it came time for the game, she lost interest while the other team was at bat.  Grant stood in the infield ready for a ball to come at him, although he didn’t quite know what to do.  Maria, stood in the outfield with me by her side, but when it came time to bat and run the bases, she declined.  She was not thrilled with putting on the batting helmet and become more interested in the snacks to come after the game than the game itself. 

Jeremy decided to get them a batting helmet and a tee so we could practice at home and hopefully get Maria engaged and comfortable enough to participate.  In practicing at home, both kids have demonstrated their preference to bat opposite of their dominate handedness.  Maria, a lefty, is batting right and Grant, a righty is batting left.  We chalked it up them just doing their “twin thing.”  Maria has also grown comfortable with her batting helmet and demonstrated this while streaking naked throughout the house after baths one evening.  Time will tell if this comfort level will carry itself to the ball field while fully clothed.

The season only lasts five weeks, which at first seemed short, but once I realized that both teams have all kids bat twice, five weeks didn’t seem quite so short.  Honestly, I’m not a fan of baseball and won’t be sad if they decide they don’t want to play again next season!  Given Maria’s soccer ball dribbling skills, I think (hope) we’ll end up more involved with soccer down the road.  For now, we’ll enjoy the entertainment that is three year old tee ball. 

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