Body Parts and Functions…A 4 Year Old’s Perspective

Grant watched Jeremy change his shirt and apparently asked about nipples. Grant came into the living room and stated “I will have nipples when I’m big.”  Maria in turn came out and got on my lap and tugged on my bra…”Mommy, will I have these?”  To which I replied, yes, she will breasts when she gets older.  She crossed her arms and dropped her head “But Mommy, I won’t know who I am!”

We make sure we teach the proper names of body parts.  I was scratching my leg and Grant thought I was doing something else,  “Mommy, why you scratching your penis?”  “G, I don’t have a penis.”  Maria loudly followed up with “Mommy has a GINA!”  This was followed by the kids listing everyone we know and whether they have a penis or a vagina.

One day while getting the kids ready for baths, Grant looked at me and said “Mommy, how does Ria pee if she doesn’t have a penis?”

Grant has learned to wipe himself after pooping.  This seems monumental after taking forever to potty train.  He now will get up on his own and poop in the morning, which is often as early as 6:30.  On Sunday, I heard their bedroom door open and close no less than three times.  When I finally got up, he announced the following “Mommy!  I poop A LOT!   I have HUMUNGUS turds!” And he used A LOT of toilet paper…our toilet can handle nearly and entire roll in one flush.  We are now working on appropriate toilet paper utilization.

A little girl turns 3


Sienna’s birthday was this last Sunday. She turned 3.

It was just a small family gathering, her larger “puppy party” is this weekend.

I’m still not quite sure she totally got what it meant that it was her “birthday,” other than that presents were involved and people sang to her.

Her donors sent her some gifts, which she opened, and we captured in the videos below.

These videos capture Sienna’s personality beautifully. She is a full-of-life girl. Her eyes twinkle when she smiles. She is an animated little spitfire.

These videos also capture her older brother’s personality. He loves being Sienna’s big brother. And with each passing day, their age gap seems to shrink, and they truly are each other’s best friend.

Opening Gifts

Listening to a Card

The Virtual Village

I’ve been in awe of the support, encouragement and prayers for a member of the embryo adoption and donation support page on facebook.  Still in her 2nd trimester with twins, she lost one of the babies and is threatening miscarriage with the other baby.  This group has poured prayers from across the country.  I think any woman can relate to the pain of a lost pregnancy, however loss after infertility seems even more cruel.  She and her husband are on a roller coaster right now and I ask for continued prayers as no matter what, they have a long road ahead.

I’ve been reminded this week of the prayers we received on our journey including a woman who prayed with me while I waited for an ultrasound when I started bleeding at 15 weeks.  I think she was real, but part of me wonders if she was an angel.  I know one thing is certain her prayer brought comfort to my fear.   I was also reminded of the network of strangers who reached out to me from across the country when Grant and Maria were in the NICU.  Again, I was comforted through fear and fatigue.

Support is so important, even if it’s virtual support.  I didn’t realize how much was out there and wish I had been plugged into more; I didn’t have to go it alone.  I hope others struggling can reach out and find support from those who can relate; it’s out there and it’s invaluable.

Four Options for Embryos in Frozen Storage


Families who have undergone in vitro fertilization to create their family, may have embryos remaining in frozen storage and may not realize that they have four options for disposing of their embryos. Their embryos may have remained in storage because they did not realize or understand the options that they have. These are the four options for families to consider….……..
The first option is to allow them to remain in frozen storage. Families with stored embryos often commented that they “forget” about their embryos until they receive the annual storage bill. In the US these storage fees can range from $250 – $1200 annually with the average being around $400 – $600 annually. While embryos can remain frozen and maintain their viability indefinitely, allowing them to continue in storage is “not making a decision at all.”
A second option is to thaw the embryos and allow them to die. For some, this is hard for them to embrace and for many it is not an option at all. For couples who struggled to have children, and were able to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization, these embryos represent success in the creation of their family. Additionally, these embryos represent precious potential life and the family does not wish to intentionally allow them to perish.
Another choice to consider is donating their embryos to research. While this may appear to be a very worthy consideration for their embryos, the family should know that there have been no cures or treatments discovered through embryonic stem cell research however, there have many cures and treatments through adult stem cell research.
The fourth option for families with embryos in frozen storage is to donate them to another family. This is a growing option for many couples who desire to help another family by donating their remaining embryos. As I spoke with donors about the disposition options, I was surprised when many voiced, “I wished someone had offered us embryos, we might not have created our own.” Additionally, these families who make the decision to donate their embryos to another family speak about their deep desire to make a difference for another family and to give their embryos an opportunity for life.
As the years go by and families do not make a decision for their embryos, there is a chance that their embryos could become abandoned. A family may move and lose contact with the clinic where the embryos are stored; consequently the embryos remain in limbo. The clinic cannot make any disposition decisions for the embryos, but must continue to store them indefinitely. Many clinics are now including an abandonment clause in their IVF contract stating that if the annual storage fees have not been paid for a certain number of years and the clinic has made numerous efforts to contact the family during that time but with no success, that they legally have the family’s permission to thaw and destroy the embryos. While many clinics have this consent in place, very few have actually acted upon it and if the clinic chooses not to destroy them, no one except the biological parents can make the decision to donate these remaining embryos. At this point the embryos are considered “abandoned.”
While the decision for their remaining embryos can be a difficult, each family should explore their options and must come to an agreement on what is right for them.



John Luke had his 18 month well baby visit and vaccinations this week. He’s in the 90th percentile of height measuring 32 inches long; and in the 85th percentile of weight clocking in at 27 lbs.

The pediatrician asked if I had any concerns. I told him I didn’t have concerns, but I had questions about how to approach some behavioral issues which could become concerns if not addressed appropriately.

John Luke is going through a hitting/slapping phase. I’ve read this is normal at his age. I’m just not sure how to discipline this behavior. I don’t want to slap his hand, then tell him not to hit. That would be ironic and confusing to a toddler.

My pediatrician suggested we implement time-out. To put him in a safe and confined area (such as a pack-n-play) for a short time. To let him cry and throw-a-fit-because he will. Then when time-out is over, reinforce that we love him, and send him back to playing.

My only other question was about John Luke’s speech. He talks fine, it’s just very limited. He’s still only speaking about 10-15 words. Dada, Mama, hot, cool, outside, ball, thank you, hi, bye, yes or yeah, no, go. The doctor said this is typical for boys, and at around 2 yrs old, they will often have an explosion of words, and start talking in at least two word sentences. John Luke spontaneously said poodle recently while I was reading to him. I know words are sinking in, they are just slow to come back out.

The pediatrician asked if we’d weaned from the bottle. I said we had, but we were still weaning from the pacifier. I replied that we are trying to limit to bedtime, and occasionally when we are out. My theory is it keeps him from putting other more unsavory things in his mouth.

Next week, we have our 6 week ultrasound at NEDC. My 2nd hcg came back at 700 which Dr. Keenan seemed pleased was a good number. We are anxious and excited to get our first glimpse at our new little bean!   We are praying for good health.


A hard week


This last week has been hard.  Three members of our family were hospitalized.  One just got out.  One remains.  One died.

Even one of these events is enough to cause you to pause, and put life in perspective.  All three at once is enough to paralyze you.

Someone very smart once said that life is but a series of trials.  We are all either in a trial, just leaving one, or about to enter into one.

I don’t feel that I’m currently in a trial (although one could argue everyday life is a trial).  I also don’t feel that I’ve just left a trial.  So, that must mean I’m about to go into one.

I could take that and become paranoid about it, or I could choose instead to relish every single morsel of time until then.  I could become obsessed with the eventuality of the next trial, or I could choose to be grateful for the moment, and not let the little things in my life swell into a fabricated trial (e.g., not let the fact that Brae has broken the blinds in his room become the central thought of  my day).

I know that the next trial is coming.  I don’t know when, or what it will be.  But, I commit to entering it with grace, enduring it with thanksgiving, and leaving it with a lesson to tell and a helping hand to deliver.


4 Year Old Photo Shoot

We did an experiment this past weekend and had my father-in-law take pictures of the kids.  Jeremy’s grandparents have a nice bit of land for our backdrop and we had  a beautiful day.  I am more than pleased with the outcome.  Of course, having beautiful subjects doesn’t hurt.

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