Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome, Crème de la Crème-ers!

I am new to the blogging scene, although I’ve been reading for years (big ups to Julie for introducing me to the world of IF and blogging). In addition to my journey as an egg donor, I am writing about secondary infertility, childrearing, divorce, and my faith.

As a fun get to know you exercise, I thought I would share a bit about myself:

I love to make music and wrote my first song at age five.
I love to read, going through an average of three books per month.
I love to plan and organize: spreadsheets make me happy!
I prefer baking to cooking.
I hold a special place in my heart for the islands of my birth.
I am a knee sock fanatic and wear the same lucky pair for each egg retrieval.
I love twisted humor and some of my favorite shows/movies are Archer, Arrested Development, American Dad, AbFab, and Soap Dish.
I love my God and am finally experiencing spiritual growth after the events of my divorce.
I love my family and am grateful every day for their love and support.

Friday, December 30, 2011

And a good cup of coffee.

Last night was date night, our last night before the kids come home from winter break. We headed over to Lafayette Village for dinner and gelato.

Before travelling back home, we stopped in Jubala for what turned out to be the best cup of coffee to ever pass my lips. As we saddled up to the bar, we learned that our barista is a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. We stayed for an hour, talking with A about his time at SEBTS, his love of coffee and reading, and his hometown, and I was reminded of my time involved with a church service called "The Vista."

Although the website is no longer operational, my time serving at The Vista was very rewarding and laid the groundwork in my expectations for cohesive worship experiences. Our main attendees were the Disney interns, a group of college students from around the world who gathered in Orlando to work for a semester. They were young, broke, and far from home. To them, The Vista provided a free home cooked meal and a safe place to explore their faith.

I woke up this morning with our conversation with A on my mind. As I drove to work, I kept replaying the evening and A's comments about missing home. Eventually my thoughts began to take shape and centered around fellowship. R and I have decided to head back to Jubala to connect with A again. We are hoping to invite A and his girlfriend over for dinner to discuss the idea of having them and a small group of their friends over for dinner at our home once a month.

We are hoping that this will provide them with a taste of home (and if it just so happens to model young adult Christian behavior to our children, all the better!).

Please be praying for us as we explore this idea. It could be very exciting!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Day After

This is the fourth Christmas I have spent with my husband and by far the best. And I know that is directly related to how much time I was able to spend with Little K in December.

Until this year, Little K has spent the entire month of December with her father. Let me tell you that being away from her during the holday season is the hardest thing I have ever done. But this year, it was different: she didn't go to her father until December 21st. We put the tree up together, made and wrapped Christmas presents, sang Christmas carols, and looked at Christmas lights. We finally had the chance to begin making Christmas memories.

There are things I will add next year: we will start the crafts earlier, make Christmas cookies, put on John Denver & The Muppets Christmas cd while we decorate, and do an advent wreath. I may even let her wrap a gift or two all by herself. But this year was absolutely wonderful all on it's own.

My stomach bug lasted through lunch on Christmas Eve, canceling our plans for salami, cheese, and artichokes that night. Instead, we watched the first Sherlock Holmes and Scrooged while nibbling on a baguette. Christmas morning was a little better, although I still was not the least bit hungry. We did stockngs together, Skyped with my folks, and cleaned the house. R went outside to finish the kids' playhouse while I got started on Christmas dinner. We went to the movies for Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows and came home for dinner.

Back from the movies, I observed to R that I liked this Christmas. While it would be even better with Little K home, I finally feel like this kind of Christmas is enjoyable and maintainable. It was low-key and full of grown up stuff we can't do with the kids home. What a surprise to find that Christmas can be enjoyed!

We still can't do Christmas Eve service (too many kids) but overall we were able to appreciate the holiday season. That was the biggest gift of all.

I wish you all a Happy Boxing Day (and Little K's 6th Birthday) and leave you with photos from our meal last night:

Osso Bucco with Lemon Gremalata on Shitake-Chantarelle-Oyster Mushroom Risotto

White Chocolate Banana Mousse filled Crepe Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Saturday, December 24, 2011


My apologies for the silence! If I may recap the week:

Monday: Little K diagnosed with walking pheumonia, reactive airway disease, and an ear infection.
Tuesday: Confirm diagnosis', spend 2 hours visiting different pharamcies, and attend school performance.
Wednesday: Transport Little K to her father's house for Christmas.
Thursday: Drive an unexpected six hours to provide clinic signage for work.
Friday: Come down with a stomach bug which knocks me out for 30 hours while my ex-husband gets secretly married.
Saturday: Finally drag myself out of bed and find a spot of ringworm on my hip.

I have spent the day washing our sheets and towels, trying not to miss Little K, and praying that tomorrow is better.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Welcome to Donating Hope!

I want to say thank you and welcome to everyone who has been by this past week! Between retrieval, recovery, and Little K's diagnosis, I have not had the opportunity to respond individually to each of you. I am new to blogging and each comment means the world to me. I am so glad you are here!

As a new blogger, I have some technical questions and would appreciate your help. How exactly does one reply to a comment in blogger? And has anyone else been having issues leaving comments on other blogger/blogspot blogs?

Thank you, again, for stopping by! I hope you decide to stick around.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Sickness

After three weeks of coughing and a low-grade fever on Friday, a doctor diagnosed Little K with walking pneumonia and reactive airway disease this morning. After a quick nebulizer treatment, we were prescribed some high impact antibiotics and an inhaler with a face mask and spacer. Headed back to the doctor in the morning to check for improvements and clearance for holiday travel.

All of this while I'm continuing to recover from retrieval. I am very grateful to have avoided the intense swelling I experienced last time, although buttoning my pants is still uncomfortable. Hooray for the bella band! Still constipated (BOOOOO!!!) and very, very tender. I have also been exhausted, sleeping late all weekend and grabbing a nap this afternoon. *yawn*

Prayers for continued healing and travel safety are appreciated. I will hope to update once we're back from the doctor tomorrow!

Friday, December 16, 2011

In Shock

Forty-six embryos were created yesterday! Forty-six! I have never felt so amazed or more honored to be an egg donor.

My doctor and my coordinator came to check on me in recovery on Wednesday. The doctor took the time to discuss the high numbers with me, R, and our coordinator. We spoke about the warning signs of OHSS, the medications he was prescribing to offset it, and what we'll do different next time to keep the numbers down. After speaking with him, I feel confident that I am receiving the best care possible and that I am more than an egg producer: I am a patient.

Yes, I said next time. When my coordinator contacted me about this last cycle, she mentioned that she had just turned someone down since this was number six. When I heard that, I felt absolutely awful. Someone was suffering with infertility, gave up the dream of having genetic children to pursue donor gametes, struggled with choosing a donor, and we turned them down? I was sick at the thought.

I emailed my coordinator, letting her know that I understood the guidelines for six cycles max but asking if we could honor this recipient's choice. She agreed to speak to the doctor's about it and, surprisingly, they agreed!

My coordinator wants me to complete one natural cycle before we start stimming, so my FINAL final cycle will begin in February 2012. Here we go again!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fertilization Report

I received an email from my center this afternoon. Of the 55 eggs retrieved, 48 were mature, resulting in an even split to the two recipients. Of the 24 eggs each recipient received, 23 eggs fertilized. The next update I can expect from my coordinator will let me know if one or both have a doubling beta.

Dear recipients, I hope and pray you are sharing good news with your family by New Year's Eve.

As for me, I am doing well. My abdomen has begun to swell slightly, although it's nothing like last time. I received an additional shot of Ganirelix last night and will begin taking half a tab of Cabergoline tonight for eight days. Due to the intense swelling I experienced last time, I decided to invest in a bella band for this cycle. It's a good thing, too, because I doubt I'll be able to button my pants for work tomorrow. Ah, the joys of post-retrieval. *sigh*

Oh! And I broke the soft/liquid fast with this amazing meal, prepared by me while perched on a bar stool (since I am currently unable to stand for long periods of time):

Asparagus Risotto with White Wine-Garlic Glazed Chicken, Stuffed with Mild Italian Sausage. YUM!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Retrieval Day, Part 2

Retrieval went well!

My IV went in on the first try (thank you, sports drink!!) and my nap was delightful. We retrieved an amazing 55 eggs and I received some additional medications to stave off OHSS. I've been feeling great this afternoon and experiencing a minimum amount of spotting. The soft/liquid diet will continue today and possibly tomorrow.

Thank you all for your prayers. Now back to bed for me!

Retrieval Day!

Retrieval is scheduled for 10:00 AM this morning. R and I are leaving the house in 15 minutes to head to the center. I have taken a different approach in preparing myself for surgery this morning:

Constipation: I have been on a soft/liquid diet for the past 24 hours and will continue for the rest of today. I will continue to take the stool softener I started during my last retrieval.

Pain Management: I try not to take additional narcotic pain medication once I get home, due to the side effects. I am hoping to get by on ibprofen and my rice heating pad.

Hydration: I get dehydrated at the drop of a hat, which has made inserting the IV extremely difficult the last two retrievals. Last night I stayed up late drinking 36 ounces of reduced-sugar sports drink. I am hoping for good results!

Nervousness: As many times as I do this, I still get nervous the morning of retrieval. See "Hydration" above! This morning, rather than accompanying R in dropping the kids off at school, I stayed home and did my Bible study (BSF: Acts of the Apostles, Lesson 14). I am already feeling more calm.

So, there you have it. Your prayers are appreciated and I will try to update this afternoon. Thank you for being with me today!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Today is Not a Good Day

My co-worker's house was broken into last night, taking their belongings, car, and Christmas presents. Another co-worker (who is battling cancer) has had a seizure in the office, we just called 911. Prayers for all, please.

Retrieval at 10:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Monday, December 12, 2011


I am R’s third wife.

The first time R got married, he was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. As he puts it, he was in heat and being married meant consequence-free sex. Around age 23, he and his wife visited a fertility specialist and found an issue with her fallopian tubes. They decided not to pursue further treatment at that time. Four years later, he found her in bed with another man and they divorced.

At age 30, R met a woman during a weekend away. They parted ways and she called a few weeks later, telling him she was pregnant. They got married immediately and divorced 28 months later. Two boys were born during their relationship.

R spent the next ten years raising one of the boys as a single father. Toward the end of those ten years, we met, he became a Christian, and we were eventually married. We celebrated our third wedding anniversary two weeks ago.

There are times when it just kills me. At age 23, even though he was not ready for children, he cared enough about his first wife to visit a specialist and get some answers. I’ve asked him before about those trips to the doctor. About why they were there, what tests were run, and why they chose not to pursue treatment. He is so pragmatic, my husband:

“We went because because all of our friends were having kids.”
“They took her into a room and handed me a cup.”
“We didn’t have the money for treatment and I wasn’t ready yet.”

She eventually remarried and adopted two children.

For the second wife, R tells me that God blessed him with two beautiful boys but cursed him by having them with a woman he couldn’t stand. I have met her when we drop SSA off for the summer. She and I don’t have much in common, but she is nice enough and obviously loves her boys. She eventually remarried and had another two children with her second husband. All four are good kids and seem at peace with their family’s situation.

And then there’s me.

Wife number three.

Mother of one beautiful almost-six year old. Step-mother to two teenage boys.

And the one woman R has been married to who he hasn’t tried or succeeded to conceive with.

Sometimes I think, “Why did he try to have children with number one but won’t try with me? Why did he have a second with number two, who he doesn’t even like, but won’t have one with me? What’s wrong with me?”

Let me tell you that the Enemy has some great answers to these questions. The Enemy tells me that he tried with number one because he loved her most. That he won’t try with me because number one broke him. That he had kids with number two because she was more seductive than I am. That R would be disgusted with my pregnant body and leave me before the baby was born. That I would fail to get back in shape after the pregnancy and he would never be intimate with me again.

Our weaknesses and insecurities are the Enemy’s playground. What is the Enemy trying to tell me? That I will never be good enough, that I am unlovable, that a man would only want me for my body, and that R is waiting for any excuse to bail out.

Each and every one of those is a lie.

R tells and shows me daily how much he loves me. And I choose to believe him. I rest on the strength of God’s promises and faithfulness. I threw down the fleece (more on that another time) and God answered; I can step out daily in love and trust.

It's just easier when I’m not ramped up on hormones. Only one more injection before retrieval. Thank goodness.

Cycle Day: 13
Estrogen: 3500+
Follicle Measurements: 15m to 18m
Dosage: Trigger Tonight
Retrieval: CD15
Baby Crazy: 7/8

Friday, December 9, 2011


Brooke of s&b put up a wonderful post about her husband, a man of character, who gives and works and loves with his whole self.


How amazing is a man like that?

I bought SSA a book for Christmas called BOOM: A Guy’s Guide to Growing Up. The very first chapter talks about the difference between being a boy and being a man, focusing on the shift from self-first to others-first, receiving to giving.

As someone who was married before I can tell you that this kind of man is hard to find. You can’t tell the difference between a boy and a man just by looking at him. Sometimes you can’t tell by talking to them, either. Even living with them, you can be deceived.

“Is Your Man a Man?” doesn’t involve the standard checklist of: Is he over 18? Does he have a job? Is he educated? Is he interesting? No, instead this list looks at more complex issues:

Does he having a growing relationship with God?
Are his friends men you want to be associated with?
Does he put others’ needs ahead of his own?
Does he complete something during the time he says he will?
Does he leave work on time?
Does he complain?
Does he go out of his way to do things he knows you will enjoy?
Does he make excuses for his actions/inaction?
Do you feel the need to make excuses for him or his actions to your friends/family?
Do you have to specifically ask him not to do/behave a certain way in front of your parents?
Does he speak differently in front of your parents or pastor than he does with you or his friends?
Does he handle disappointment or frustration in a healthy way?
Does he become provoked or angry easily?
Does he put you in harms way, either physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually?
Would your parents or pastor approve of the way you act when you are together unsupervised?

I will be honest: prior to our marriage, I would not have been able to answer every question well with R(although it is a definite improvement over my previous relationship.) We did many things that I am not proud of and, I must admit, that I now see he should have put a stop to. I am so thankful that R is, at the heart of things, a man of character and that he continues to grow daily. In spite of my many mistakes, God has chosen to bless me in my second marriage.

I purchase a book as part of Little K's Christmas present, also, called The Princess and the Three Knights. After a rigorous round of tests, including strength, charitable work, and essays, the king puts the knights to a final test: to take the princess as close to the edge of the cliff as possible without falling. The first knight takes her within twelve inches, the second to within six inches. But the third knight refuses to take the princess anywhere near the cliff, telling the king that she is too great a treasure to put in harms way. All three passed the tests for strength, intellegence, and charity, but only the third showed true character.

1 Corinthians 13 is often quoted during weddings, but have you ever really heard it?

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.

This is not a trivial list. Each and every statement shows depth of character, a selfless way of living that is vital to the sustaining of any relationship, whether marriage, friendship, or parental.

I pray that R continues to grow and that I do, too. I want my man of character to have a woman of character by his side.

Lord, give me the strength and wisdom to pass these lessons on to Little K before she is old enough to date or get married!

That Escalated Quickly

Things that have made me cry today:

Casting Crowns, The Voice of Truth via The Zen of the Egg Hunt
I want to listen and believe the Voice of truth. It's just so hard when the Voice is telling you exactly what you don't want to hear.

Eggs in a Row
"I know he wants to be a daddy, but I didn’t realize how much." I want that.

Four of a Kind: "I hope that wherever this post finds you today that you are able to move from focusing so much on life's "what ifs" to make the most of "what is" in your life and family."
These donor hormones make it so hard to block out the "what ifs."

I even made myself cry.
It is easy for me to be jealous when I hear about people who have the opportunity to pursue pregnancy but it never really is a sure thing.

Two songs are playing in dissonance inside my head, each powerful and each with my whole heart. Maybe, maybe.

Maybe This Time, Cabaret
Not a loser anymore
Like the last time
And the time before
Everybody loves a winner
So nobody loved me;
'Lady Peaceful,' 'Lady Happy,'
That's what I long to be
All the odds are in my favor
Something's bound to begin
It's got to happen, happen sometime
Maybe this time I'll win

Blessings, Laura Story
'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Baby Crazy: Easily a seven.


I arrived at 7:31 AM this morning, but the elevator was still locked. I joined eight other women and one man by the elevator, waiting for the keypad to blink, announcing that we were open for business. I glance around the group of women, all avoiding eye contact with each other. The thought crosses my mind to break the silence, but instead I pull out my phone and check email. If they want to remain anonymous, I will let them.

I enter the clinic at 7:35, add my name to the sign-in sheet, and have a seat. Glancing around the room, I see that each woman has taken a seat away from everyone else. Somehow, with only 10 bodies, we have filled the entire waiting room. Some read, others play with their phones, and the only break from silence is the nurse calling us back.

I am finally shown to a room by my least favorite nurse at 7:52. I am already heading to the restroom when she asks me if I need to use it. Yes, I think, I know the drill. Instead I nod my affirmative and let myself in.

As I sit down, I notice that the woman on the other side of the door has left her pants, shoes, and jacket in the room. I remember those boots from the waiting room, camel-colored Uggs with fleece lining. There were two women with those shoes, one my age and the other slightly older. “I wonder which one,” I think.

As I wash my hands, I think about that woman. About how she gets the chance to become pregnant and how I’m jealous. “Donor hormones are kicking in again,” I think. As I fold my pants and hide my panties, I wonder about whether or not to try this cycle. “R’s sperm count was never verified after his vasectomy and maybe this is the cycle…”

I pull the paper sheet over my lap and take out my phone, figuring I’ll read a few blogs as I wait. I hear a noise and think it’s my doctor coming in, but it is the restroom door locking. Then a gulping noise and the tears start. I hear her sobbing and pulling paper towels out of the holder. I want so badly to knock on the door, to offer her a hug and to hold her. I don’t want her to be alone.

Just a minute later, my doctor comes in and invites me to lie back as she readies the wand. She asks me about my upcoming weekend as we both pretend not to hear the woman crying on the other side of the wall. I put my feet in the stirrups and pray that she doesn’t have to go to work, that she can just head home.

By the time I make it to the lab, there are no Uggs. She has already left and I have no way to find her.

Whoever you are, I am praying for you. I hope you are not alone today. I hope the next one works.

Cycle Day: 10
Estrogen: 1500
Follicle Measurements: 10m to 12m range
Dosage: 150 Follistim, 1 vial Menopur, 1 Ganirelix pre-filled syringe
Estimate retrieval date: CD15
Baby Crazy (1=least, 10=most): 5

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The More You Know

There are times when it makes me laugh and others when it makes me shake my head. At this stage of the game, I know:

How to do my injections in less than 4 minutes.
To set multiple alarms and reminders on my phone for appointments and shots.
To request the large Sharps container over the small one and keep it through multiple cycles.
To drink a full bottle of water during my drive to the clinic and to finish it 10 minutes before my scan.
Which phlebotomist to request in the lab.
To bring a sweater or wrap to the clinic for the waiting room.
To keep my phone handy when I’m in the stirrups, just in case I have to wait.
To wear a liner everyday during a cycle.
How to estimate my retrieval date based on my CD8 scan.

Apparently the one thing I don’t know how to do is insist that I receive my Ganirelix syringes on CD8, even if the doctor doesn’t think I will need them until my next appointment. I now have to make another trip downtown before Thursday night. *sigh*

Cycle Day: 8
Estrogen: 601
Dosage: 150 Follistim, 1 vial Menopur, add Ganirelix pre-filled syringe CD9.
Estimate retrieval date: CD15
Baby Crazy (1=least, 10=most): 3*

*I did experience a split-second hope of seeing a yolksac during this morning’s ultrasound. Uterus’ contents = none.

Monday, December 5, 2011

And Many More

Yesterday marked the first time, in three years of marriage, that R and I have been in the same state for our anniversary.

For our first anniversary, I was in Florida for my first egg retrieval. For our second, I was dropping off Little K to spend December with her father. R sent roses to me at my parents' house both years. This year, however, R and I exchanged cards and spent our anniversary in the comfort of our home, cuddling on the couch with Little K, watching the Harry Potter marathon on ABC.

Best. Anniversary. Ever.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Doctor Google

Let me begin by saying that everything is fine.

I attended my baseline scan for the upcoming donor cycle yesterday. My lining looks excellent and I should expect my period to begin tomorrow. My right ovary was deigned beautiful and ready to rock. The surprise came with my left ovary, which showed an oversize follicle when compared with my current cycle day. The measurements were 7mm x 12mm, which put it small enough not to be a problem for the cycle but large enough to wonder what was up. It was then when my nurse used a scary word, cyst, and said that they would call me with my estrogen levels to confirm the status.

The first piece of good news was this: I did not find any reports about repeated egg donations causing ovarian cysts, malignant or otherwise.

The second piece of good news came late afternoon when I received a call from my clinic, stating that my estrogen is at 47.6. This tells us that this is not an estrogen producing cyst and is most likely a lazy follicle that has not finished returning to its normal size following my latest donation. We are still a go to start stims on Saturday and will schedule additional ultrasounds following retrieval to make sure my follicles return to normal.

So, really, good news and nothing serious to worry about.

Other things have failed to return to normal lately, namely my weight and my menstrual cycle. My weight creeps up by a pound or five during a cycle and seems to hold on to one or two each time. I am currently up 10 pounds from my first donation. Boooo! My menstrual cycles are lengthening as well, stretching out from my usual five weeks to seven weeks. Although my total eggs retrieved each cycle continues to be in the 20’s, my body is definitely slowing down.
So, there you go. Here’s our lineup this cycle:

First BCP: 11/15/11
Last BCP: 11/29/11
Begin Stims: 12/3/11
Dosage: Evenings only, 150 IU Follistim with 1 Vial Menopur
Add prefilled Ganirelix around 12/7/11.
Estimated Retrieval: 12/14/11


I did not make it through NaBloPoMo or IComLeavWe. My apologies to all of you who did not receive comments! I will try, so very hard, to do better next time.

More to come on the current donor cycle and gestational carrier situation. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful today for my father, who came up from Florida, my mother, who Skyped in from Israel, and my sister, who called from the road in Texas. I am also thankful for my husband, R, my stepson, SSA, and, of course, Little K. I am also thankful that I didn't overcook the turkey.

I hope you were able to avoid any holiday stress and be thankful for the blessings God has given you.

Happy Thanksgiving and Safe Travels!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


“For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren't they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn't it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? And when he swore that they'd never get where they were going, wasn't he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there because they never listened, never believed.”

The Israelites made it through the dessert, to the very edge of the promised land, and turned away. The promised land was THE goal. It was the answer to the Israelites prayers while in captivity; the end of the long, hard journey through the dessert. But because of their disobedience, they were not able to receive God’s gift. They placed themselves in the way of God’s plan and ended up being deprived of His blessing.

I have prayed about the size of our family and God has answered: ours is a family of four. I need to listen and believe rather than put myself in the way of His plan. What blessings will be fulfilled through the size of our current family?

What blessings might be missed if I were to force the issue of another child?

Lord, thank you for the blessings you have promised our family. Help me to believe. Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The upcoming holiday season can often be stressful. Not new information, I know! But how much of this stress is driven by our need for perfection?

To be the perfect hostess with the perfectly decorated home.
The perfect guest with the perfect conversational skills.
The perfect friend with the perfect gift.
The perfect cook with the perfect feast.
The perfect mother with the perfectly behaved kids.
The perfect daughter-in-law with perfect fertility.

Why do we desire perfection? For me, it is a need for approval and validation. It is such a rush to hear, “Wow, you are/this looks amazing!” I look for other people to determine my value based on my actions instead of focusing on the truth: my worth is found in Christ alone.

Who or what is your holiday trigger? Is it a pregnant sister-in-law? A nit-picky MIL? An ex-spouse? Guests coming into your home? People you don’t know at a seasonal function?

As we approach Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, I will be praying the following verses for myself and all of you:

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.

God does not require perfection so do not burden yourself with it, either. I hope we all take time this holiday season to focus on things that truly matter:

And our relationships, both with Christ and each other.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Reason

(This post was scheduled for last week but, due to the carrier situation, was delayed. Enjoy!)

I’ve been questioning my reasons for blogging about SIF. In my case, the situation is of my own making. I am not trying to martyr myself by saying, “I did it for my husband but oh, my poor broken heart.” I am not trying to stir up drama by saying, “Yes, I agreed to this but I didn’t really mean it.”

My head understands the reasoning that led us to this decision. Our household budget would be stretched very thin if we were to have another child. Our home and vehicles are not large enough for a family of five (or six, depending on the time of year). Our at-home children are used to being only-children due to our late marriage and their age difference. My husband is in his mid-forties with two teenage sons; his heart and mind are closer to retirement stage than the new parent stage. Our lifestyle allows us to parent our children throughout the year, and provides us with six weeks each summer to enjoy a belated newlywed period.

All of these things continue to hold true. My mind knows that they are valid and important. My heart, however, continues to fluctuate and the “if’s” start rolling in.

IF we didn’t have any debt, we could afford a larger home and car.

IF we had conceived when I first mentioned it, the age difference between the children would not be so large.

IF I had held out longer, R could have changed his mind.

But none of these is concrete. Even without debt, our budget could not support a larger mortgage or second car payment. Even if we had conceived right away, Little K and the baby would still have been born four years apart. Even if I had held out, R made up his mind on this subject eight years before he met me.

There is one if that never comes up: IF I hadn’t married R, I would have another child by now. Before I married R, I didn’t want another child; I wanted it to stay Little K and me forever. Even when I was married to Little K’s father, I didn’t want more children.

The reality is, IF I hadn’t married R, I would be without my great love, and Little K would be without a father (figure) who adores her.

So why am I blogging about it?

The desire for a child isn’t driven by my rational mind but by my emotions, memories, imagination, and hormones.

My emotions tell me that R is a wonderful father and Little K would be an amazing big sister.

My memories tell me that my pregnancy was wonderful and remind me that I did not have the opportunity to raise a child from birth in a healthy marriage.

My imagination shows me a picture of a beautiful baby and a larger family.

And my hormones remind me over and over that this is what my body was made for and I’m not getting any younger and OMG look at that adorable baby SQUEEEEE!

I’ve noticed that, since starting Donating Hope, I’m having more good days than bad. It is such a relief to release these thoughts and feelings. Express, don’t repress, right?

Looks like I’ll be sticking around for a while.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Coming!

Thanksgiving is coming! I'll share if you will:

Breakfast: Citrus Crepes, Bacon, Eggs any style, Fresh Berries, Caribou Coffee

While We Cook: Grandma Pat's Dip with Ruffles and Carrots, Pie Crust Crackers, Pumpkin Filled Wonton with Caramel Sauce

First Course: Butternut Squash Soup

Main Course: Alton Brown's Brined Turkey, Fresh Greenbeans with Fried Shallot, Apple Thyme Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Relish

Dessert: Southern Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Mousse, Cinnamon Spice Kaluah with Milk

Leftovers Plans: Sweet Potato Hash with Stuffing Griddle Cakes, Turkey and Potato Handpies

What about you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Debbie Goes to Israel

My mother is an amazing woman: wife of 38 years, mother of two, published anthor, sought after consultant and speaker, and graduate student. She left today for Israel as a part of a Masters of Divinity program. Read about her journey here.

She was also in Uganda as a group leader for Lead Like Jesus last month. Click here to read about her experience.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


No word from the center today. I am anxious to hear whether or not the IPs want to meet us.

I had another breakthrough this afternoon. I met some new friends for lunch and one of them was watching a 10 month old girl for the day. I immediately offered my lap and was rewarded with baby cuddles. The strange thing was that the usual baby hunger didn't appear during or after this interaction; I was happy to hand her back over and go about my adult day.

Another step in the right direction!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I received the calendar for my next donor cycle this afternoon and am starting BCPs in the morning. Retrieval tentatively scheduled for December 15th. Tomorrow is also the day the IPs are coming into the center to view my profile.

I would appreciate your prayers over the next few days.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Three-Letter Word

There are three people on this earth that I can talk to about sex: my husband, my sister, and my best friend. Put me in front of anyone else and my face goes red while my mouth snaps shut. I had to be distracted with a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle while my mother gave me “the talk” because I couldn’t look at her while she spoke about that.

This makes it difficult when your daughter starts asking questions about human reproduction.

Luckily, my mother swooped in to save the day. She gave Little K words to use by telling her that the woman has the egg, the man has the seed, they put them together and a baby is made. Which, for a five year old, is just enough information. As she gets older, I will need to get over myself and positively educate her about her body, sexuality, and how to protect herself until she is ready to start a family.

I will also share information with her regarding reproductive assistance.

Reproductive education does not seem to get much positive attention. Many schools tell our children how easy it is to become pregnant, so “you better not have sex.” The reality is that it’s not that easy. I want my daughter to understand what infertility is, what it means, and what courses of treatment are available, if needed.

I do my best to encourage people to assess their fertility before they start trying to conceive in order to be prepared, should they encounter problems. If you are a woman, make sure to visit your gynecologist annually and spend time charting your menstrual cycle. If you are a man, have your prostate examined and meet with an urologist.

Now, please excuse me: I’m off to gag in the corner at the thought of my little girl growing up and having sex.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Peace of Heaven

One of the sets of IPs (intended parents) is coming into the center on Thursday to view my profile. Even with our concerns about the possibility of carrying, I am peaceful right now. When the situation comes to mind, I am reminded that God will make the decision clear.

If these people come into our lives, I would like them to become lifelong friends. I am not hoping for attention or continued thanks for the part I played. I do not want to pour out parenting advice or intrude in any way. We will have shared an amazing journey; only the four of us will really know what it was like to be together during this time. I hope that it will be the first of many memories we make together.

Please continue to pray, both my husband and I and the IPs. This cannot be an easy road for them to travel. I am hoping that the choice of carrier is an easy one, for all of us.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thinking Under the Influence

Of hormones.

Driving to the RE’s office for my latest retrieval, I realized how ironic it is that a woman who craves another baby has donated genetic material to six families. I shudder to think what I would have said if I came to that conclusion after they gave me the drugs…

Saturday, November 12, 2011


When I was pregnant with Little K, Hedwig was my jam. You’ve never lived till you’ve seen an eight month pregnant chick rocking out to Wig in a Box.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Want vs. Need

I want to sleep in but I need to be on time for work.

I want to go on a trip but I need to save my vacation days in case the kids get sick.

I want a new dress but I need to buy groceries.

I want another child but I need to respect my husband’s decision.

Those first three seem reasonable, don’t they? They are about responsibility: being an adult and making wise choices for our family. I have the opportunity to actively make choices: get up, go to work, buy groceries.

So why does this last one rub some people the wrong way?

When I make a choice to sacrifice my desires regarding actions or spending for the benefit of our family, I am seen as responsible. But often it seems that when I, as a wife, choose to prayerfully submit to my husband’s desires, red flags go up.

I’m afraid that assumptions are being made: that my husband is seen as domineering, not respecting me, or “putting his foot down,” when in reality, we spent months agonizing and praying over this decision.

Our pastor challenged my husband to open his heart to another child and challenged me to find peace with our current family. He opened my husband’s eyes to my youth and desire to be a mother; he opened my eyes to my husband’s age and desire to be an empty-nester.

No ultimatums were given; no timeline was set. We talked until there was nothing left unsaid and prayed until one of us felt at peace with the other’s desire.

It just so happened that that person was me.

My husband wants his wife to have the desires of her heart but needs to be done having children. I want children to love and want my husband to be at peace.

As it turned out, I was the one who could do both.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bite Me

From NaBloPoMo Writing Prompts, November 2, 2011:
“If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?”

We are a food family. Sitting down for a meal gets us talking about ingredients and cooking methods and past meals until long after the current meal has been consumed. So this prompt poses great difficulty. Are we talking a full, four to five course meal? Or a single plate/bowl meal? Gourmet or comfort food? Homemade or restaurant?

Let’s consider the options:

Single Bowl, Homemade, Comfort Food: My mom’s chicken curry casserole with green beans over sticky rice.

Single Plate, Homemade, Comfort Food: Mom’s meatloaf, Dad’s smashed cauliflower, roasted or grilled asparagus.

Courses Meal, Homemade, Gourmet: Cheese, Salami, and Artichoke Platter with a bright chardonnay; Dad’s Asparagus and Brie Soup; Dad’s Beef Short Ribs with a mild merlot; Mom’s Crème Brule with Caribou “Morning Blend” Coffee.

Single Plate, Restaurant, Comfort Food: Four Rivers BBQ in Winter Park/Winter Garden, Florida. Pulled pork, baked cheese grits, cinnamon apples, coleslaw.

Courses, Restaurant, Comfort Food: San Jose’s in Orlando, Florida. Chips with queso blanco and guacamole, chicken fajitas with flour tortillas, Mexican brownie with ice cream and keep the sangria coming.

Single Bowl, Restaurant, Gourmet: Roaring Fork in Austin, Texas. The biggest bowl of Verde Mac-n-Cheese available.

Courses, Restaurant, Gourmet: Take me to Victoria & Albert’s at Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel. Put me in the chef’s hands, no seafood please, with wine pairings. I will die happy.

And don’t forget the malasadas from Leonard's Bakery or the ice cream mochi from Bubbies. Plzkthx.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Have you noticed that I flip back and forth from being fine to being, well, not fine?

Yeah, me too.

There are moments when the desire for another child is so strong that I cannot think of anything else. There are other times when I have complete peace and having a baby is the furthest thing from my mind.

Life Hormones are funny that way.

My thoughts experienced a significant shift last week when my husband commented that our debts would be paid off within the next four years. Our financial situation was a factor when considering his vasectomy but I balked at the thought of TTC once we are paid out.

If we conceived right away, birth would see my oldest stepson at 19, SSA at 17, and Little K at 10. I have no desire to go back to the beginning when Little K is that old; the age difference would make the sibling relationship I want her to have difficult, if not impossible. Plus, I would be 35, R would be 50, and we would be close to the empty nest he dreams about.

I remember that SSA was 10 when I first brought up the idea of having another child. All of a sudden, I can see things through R’s eyes and better understand where he is coming from.

God is working on me a little each day, allowing me to slowly release these longings and trust Him with our family.

I am so very thankful.

Wisdom from Little K

Last night, I asked Little K what she thought about the idea of her Mommy keeping another Mommy's baby in her tummy until it was grown up enough to go home. After thinking for a minute, Little K replied:

"I would be sad that the baby didn't get to come home with us but I would be happy that we helped the other Mommy."

I think that sums it up nicely. We have decided to allow the center to share my profile with the intended parents. Sharing my profile does not gaurantee that they will want to move forward with us; nothing is set in stone until a contract is signed. I believe that, on our end, clarity will come with meeting the intended parents and large amounts of prayer afterward.

We are releasing this to God's hands. If we are supposed to move forward, He will make it clear.

If these IPs do not choose us, I will be taking my profile off the list. I do not want to be faced with this decision again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gestational Carrier

(Full disclosure: this post was not edited by Becomingbrina.)

I was contacted by another department from my center today. In early January, before my baby hunger kicked into high gear, I completed my application to be a gestational carrier through my center. My husband and I passed the psych screening, and my profile was placed in the pool for viewing by intended parents.

Two sets of intended parents are searching for a carrier and the coordinator wanted to make sure I was still on board before releasing my profile to them. I have to admit, my response was stunned silence. I decided to have my profile taken down a few weeks ago but hadn't contacted the coordinator yet to do so. Considering my struggle with SIF over the past six months, I am not sure what to tell her.

The number one concern is my emotional well-being during and after the pregnancy. Will my desire for another child make this experience unmanageable, painful, or damaging. I experienced mild postpartum depression after Little K was born and R is concerned about my reaction after birth when we don't get a take-home baby.

Other concerns are for our family. Little K is young enough that she could be hurt by the experience of having her mother out of commission if I am put on bed rest and may not understand why we cannot keep the baby. There is also SSA to consider; he is just turning 13 and questions about the situation may be embarrassing for him.

In all honesty, there is also the superficial side of me that is not sure if I want to test the resiliency of my thirty year old body.

I told the coordinator that I would call her with an answer tomorrow. I do not want to give these IPs hope and then pull out at the last minute. Prayers for clarity, honesty, and peace would be very welcome.

Mississippi Initiative 26, Personhood Bill

Keiko wrote about it last week. The polls opened this morning. Here is what people are saying:

"... if a woman goes to the ER for a spontaneous miscarriage, theoretically the attending physician should call the police. If she already had other children, social services should be called. Because under MS 26, this woman just committed manslaughter."

“As the nation’s leading organization of women’s health physicians, dedicated to all aspects of women’s health, ACOG supports quality health care appropriate to every woman’s needs throughout her life, including the full spectrum of clinical and reproductive services. Mississippi’s “Personhood Amendment,” Proposition 26, does not respect the autonomy of women and jeopardizes women’s health.

“The only treatment for this deadly medical condition (ectopic pregnancy) is to sacrifice the embryo by removing it (and often the tube) or by causing the embryo’s demise and reabsorption by the body by administering a cytotoxin. Remember that the ectopically growing embryo is doomed regardless of whether its mother lives or dies but if this embryo is legally a person, current treatments to save the mother would be legally defined as murder, not medicine, and the mother would be doomed to die as well.

“A woman who is pregnant who develops a life-threatening condition because of the pregnancy will not be permitted to terminate; it will be committing murder.”

“On a macro level, I’m appalled because we are in 2011 and enacting this amendment takes women’s rights back to at least the 1920s and possibly further.”

“The desire to have children might label this woman and others like her a murderer if they need to use fertility treatments.  How ironic that a law that seeks to ensure embryos personhood could result in no children for infertile couples.”

Mel at Stirrup Queens managed to capture my feelings on the subject perfectly:

“…there is a huge hap between believing something and creating laws that govern other people.

Get the facts at Vote No on 26.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Bit of a Stalker

Like Paul establishing his credentials by calling out his relationships with community members at the churches of Rome and Colosse, I thought I would share my infertility blogroll.

As mentioned previously, Julie of A Little Pregnant was my first blog love, followed quickly by Julia at Here Be Hippogriffs, Karen at The Naked Ovary, and Cecily at and I wasted all that birth control. The list has expanded and contracted over the years, but here is the complete list of who I read today:

This is just a list of the parenting/infertility related blogs I read; there’s another long list encompassing interior design, food/cooking, and web-comics. Stay tuned for more.

If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Wait, you’ve never heard of Archer?

That’s terrible! Because Archer is the best thing in the world to watch when you’re lying on the couch enjoying your post-retrieval drugs.

Archer has been with me for four out of my five donations and I’m hoping that season two will be out in time for the next cycle.

I’d offer to grill you a cheese, but I bet your mouth is too dry to swallow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sarah’s Laughter

Sarah’s Laughter is an organization that offers support to those struggling with infertility and/or infant loss, and I came across their website while researching materials for a Christian infertility support group.

As an author and provider of daily e-devotionals called “Daily Double Portion,” Beth Forbus has been a source of comfort and inspiration. I am looking forward to the opportunity to obtain a copy of her book, “Baby Hunger,” and newly published Bible study, “Surviving Infertility: What the Bible Says about Your Baby Hunger.”

In the meantime, I would like to share two excerpts from October’s Daily Double Portion emails:

Sarah’s Laughter: Daily Double Portion 10-25-11

Hear Jesus, the friend who really is closer to you than a brother, as He reminds you, I am with you always. With you at work. With you at home. With you when you find out someone else is pregnant. With you when you find out you’re not. I am with you always.

Sarah’s Laughter: Daily Double Portion 10-21-11

Don’t let your connection to Jesus Christ become severed during your struggle with infertility.”

I am so grateful to know that I am not alone. The desire for a child can be isolating, especially since my husband and I have already made the decision to not pursue treatment.

When the baby-cravings are at their worst, God hears me.

When I speak to my husband about those feelings, He softens my husband’s heart so he can hear me without being offended or hurt, and gives me words that do not cast blame or assign guilt.

When I don’t know how or what to pray, the Holy Spirit “does [my] praying in and for [me], making prayer out of [my] wordless sighs, [my] aching groans.”

In answer to my prayers for another child, I have continually found myself pointed back to our current family:

I have a work schedule that allows me to spend more time with my daughter, and a husband who helps create exactly the family life I’ve always desired for her; I am learning how to better connect with my stepson and show affection to him; and God has been good to us, giving my husband the flexibility to know that I desire another child and the wisdom to understand that this is not a grudge I bear in our relationship.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mississippi Initiative 26

“Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi: SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hereby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ: Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.”

Do I believe the wording of Initiative 26 is dangerous? Yes, I do.

Do I believe, if passed, this language will remain only in Mississippi? No, I do not.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In The Beginning

April 2005:

I was 24 years old and had been married for about three years. My period was due the next day but I wasn’t feeling the usual symptoms. As I Googled “early pregnancy symptoms,” I smiled an only-slightly nervous smile. We weren’t trying, but having a child had been on my mind for about six months. I had been snooping around the baby sections online and in stores, ogling cribs and tiny clothes.

My search pulled up the usual results, and sure enough, many of the symptoms listed matched how I was feeling. Maybe this was it! Getting excited, I tried other term combinations. Then I noticed one particular result. A blog? Curious, I clicked through and what I read at A Little Pregnant changed me.

Infertile? IVF? I had heard these words before but hadn’t dwelled on them. I read a few posts and learned that Julie’s son was born prematurely at 30 weeks gestation, after her fourth round of in-vitro fertilization. I read about her struggle to become, and stay, pregnant. I scanned medication names like Lupron, Repronex, and Follistim, not quite understanding what each was supposed to accomplish (besides a baby).

As I read through Julie’s archives, I was struck again and again by her writing style, humor, and honesty. Who was this woman? And who are all of these people that left comments on her blog? Were they all going through what she had gone through?

Blogrolls and commenters lead me to other sites. I found Karen at “The Naked Ovary”  (now Momstrous), Julia at “Here be Hippogriffs,” Cecily at “and I wasted all that birth control” (now Uppercasewoman). Each one had a story to tell about their infertility and journey to parenthood.

I started to feel sick. Not from morning sickness, but from guilt. I had found a community that I didn’t know existed while blissfully researching a potential “OOPS!” pregnancy.

Eight months later, Little K was born. I kept reading the blogs. Some turned into parenting blogs, some continued trying for a child. I read along, celebrating with joys and crying for disappointments, and prayed.

I wanted to help but didn’t know how.

Eventually Julie cycled again, this time with donor eggs. That caught my attention! I started researching and asking questions. I looked for other bloggers pursuing similar treatment. Maybe this was it?

After more prayer, soul searching, and research, I reached out to my local Center for Reproductive Medicine. I completed the initial application and waited for their response. Several months later I was invited in for a physical, ultrasound, and blood work. I was asked to report to an office down the street for a psychological evaluation. A few weeks later, CRM contacted me to let me know I passed the screenings and was now a donor in their program.

It took another year after that to be selected by a recipient. Throughout the process, I watched Little K grow from a baby into a rambunctious toddler. By the time my first donation was complete, Little K was almost four years old. Cuddling with my girl after recovery was so sweet; I couldn’t help thinking about my recipient and hoping that she would have the same opportunity to cuddle with her child next year.

I know next to nothing about the women who receive my eggs. Given the information shared on my donor profile, I can make an educated guess as to their features, complexion, descent, and hobbies. I do not know if they are married or single, gay or straight, young or old, Christian or not.

Each time I take part in a donation, I pray for the recipient(s). That she will become pregnant and be able to carry the child to term. That she has opened her heart to a child that is not genetically related to her. And that if she is in a relationship, it is loving and will hold together through the strain of having a child.

I know that my mother prays, too, for the child to be born into a Christian family and experience salvation. I mostly pray for the child to grow up happy, with the knowledge that its parent(s) loved it so much that they did everything in their power to create this new life.

The men and women who pursue treatment love their child before it is created: this is the story behind infertility. (That sounds familiar.)

What greater gift can children receive than to know they are wanted?

To know they are loved.