Sunday, January 31, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday



Since suckers, chocolate, and stickers haven't seemed to work in our potty training endeavor, we had to be more resourceful. Min man cannot wait to go to school or more importantly go on the school bus. So we tell him that he cannot go to school unless he is wearing underware and going on the potty instead of his diaper.
One of his favorite things to say now in his stream of conscious way of speaking is,
"I go to bus, go to school, Mom. Pweeeeeease."

His little voice and cute face looking up at me with wide eyes are enough to melt my heart.
He gets cuter all the time. Hearing his thoughts are amazing, and I fall in love with him more everyday.

Oh, and because we have absolutely no privacy, Min man tells us "good job" after taking a shower, going to the bathroom, and getting dressed. I hope since he knows that we are doing these things correctly that he will pick them up without a problem.


He's pretty good at putting on my boots!




Check out Weebles Wobblog for more Perfect Moments.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Show and Tell- 1.28.10

I am finally getting around to sharing some photos of my travelling days. I studied for a semester in Siena, Italia and during that stay I also visited Greece.

In my senior year of college I studied in Granada, Espana which is located in southern Spain. 3 friends and I decided to make the trek over to Morocco and stay in Tangier for a weekend.
Here are a few photos.



Probably my first and last camel ride.

I thought this little girl captured what it felt like to walk down those ancient streets.


This woman was the essence of life in Tangier.

I miss travelling and experiencing new cultures. I am a language major and have always loved learning about other people's way of life. My short term goals for travel are Ireland, France, and back to my beloved Italia.
More pictures to come.
BTW- the only reason why I was able to do Show and Tell today was because Min man got my scanner to work!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just Know

For someone in my life who is struggling, you are surrounded by love.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Status- why am i doing this?

Will the soul searching ever end? I guess I should say no. If I let myself think I have nothing else to work on in life, then what will I accomplish beyond this? What would I end up like?

I appreciate all of the wonderful comments left on this blog. Readers are cheering me on as I tackle what seems to be an insurmountable task of making a charity successful. I know we are fulfilling one half of our mission statement- emotional assistance and coping, offering guidance and hope. The second half, the financial part, is the bear.

Don't get me wrong. We are awarding grants in June. They will be at least $1,000. But to how many people and exactly how much I do not know. We are planning our first big fundraiser as many of you know, and I am not ashamed to admit that I am scared.

I am scared it will not be successful enough. We won't sell enough tickets. It won't make enough money. I don't want to let anyone down.

I am taking a big risk by putting my heart on the line. This non-profit and blog are a portrayal of what lives and breathes inside of me.

I never thought I would be someone dedicated to charity work. I guess that's because when you are involved in a charity or foundation, you do not look at it as work but a necessity. The people who have supported me and helped to get PFM off the ground are noble and wonderful. They believed in the cause first and somewhere along the line they began to believe in me.

I began to believe in me.

I recently posed a very difficult question to myself. Why am I doing this? In the beginning my reasons for starting this non-profit were very clear- to help others in a similar situation avoid some heartache. To help them feel less alone.

My struggle with infertility and becoming a parent have not faded, but it has become more engrained in who I am today. As things remain difficult with growing a national non-profit, unfortunately I am losing a little bit of steam. The fear of not fulfilling what I aim to accomplish has set in. I realize that this fear is what will ultimately keep me going. The support system that I have is amazing, and when I shed tears because I am overwhelmed, there is someone there to help wipe them away. No one could do this alone. However in the end, the sobering fact is that this is about me and my continued desire to write this blog, market PFM, find new and exciting ways to spread the word of our cause, and dedicate a huge part of my life to helping others.

I do not forget, though that helping others helps me. I have become acutely aware that every act of kindness is a reaction. Throughout our difficult journey of ART and infertility there were bright spots. We met certain people that helped put things into perspective. We adopted our son from S. Korea because of a woman we met by chance. We have our son because of a chance meeting! I was forced to reevaluate my life and to learn to make the most of things. Disappointment and pain can breed wonderful things if you open yourself up to the possibilities.

I guess my status is that I'm a little tired. There is a fluttering in my heart all the time because I have many tasks to complete. What I need to come to terms with is that the list will never be complete. Not with the non-profit, motherhood, my marriage, or running a household. I will never have the ceremonial scratching off of the last to-do item. I envision a big, fat shar.pie marker, black ink, the left to right motion. DONE. Who wants a Margarita?

I guess for now I will just take the Margarita. Salt please.

I may be getting used to the idea that I am in the press, on TV, the radio, podcasts, reviews, magazines and on and on. However, the focus on my particular journey is becoming less and less as PFM grows wings. I will now be able to speak about the countless number of people PFM will help. I will be able to share success stories. There will be pictures of families and newborn babies displayed as a testament that PFM is needed. I will continue to educate people on the difficulties of infertility and loss, the necessity of financial and emotional support when someone cannot have the family they desire.

I can try to be a voice.

That is why I am doing this.



(Please consider entering our blog entry contest to help educate others on infertility, adoption, and loss. Rules are on the right. It can be an old or new entry. You also do not need to have a blog to participate.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy ICLW- January

It's that time of the month- ha!

My blog is an extension of the non-profit Parenthood for Me.org. Our mission is to provide financial and emotional support to those building families through adoption or medical intervention.

My super great friend Kym organized a fundraiser for our Family Building Dinner and Silent Auction in April. A huge thanks to her and everyone who donated and participated.

I will proudly display the ALI community table sponsorship in April. Is anyone interested in designing the sign? Also look for the ALI community sponsorship to be posted on our website.

It is not easy running and starting a non-profit. Not only did I have this brilliant idea right before the Great Recession, but it is hard to establish a reputation as a legitimate charity. We have gained so much support in such a short time. It is a testament to the necessity of support when going through the life crisis of infertility and loss.

How do I measure PFM's success? Well, we have already had so many successes. Two babies have been born to parents who struggle to conceive and were readers and supporters of PFM. Other babies are on the way and we eagerly await their arrival. We raised $11,000 in 2009. Not bad for a tiny, fledgling non profit. We have been mentioned in Adoptive Families Magazine and will be highlighted in Parents Magazine this spring. We created our Artwork for Building Families Project to raise awareness and the endowment. The list goes on.

Our first grants will be awarded in June, and although I cannot specify at this point the number of people who will receive grants, we will be able to offer a some support to people on their journey to building a family. Our goal is to have the ability to offer life changing money to as many recipients as possible.

Please read about our Third Blog Entry Contest on the right. Help us educate others on infertility, adoption, and loss.

Also check out my favorite posts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ink Armor

On the morning of the big day I woke up knowing that I would never be the same again. After two years of talk I was going to walk the walk- all by my lonesome (as my mother says). I dropped my son off, went to work for a little bit, and then hopped in my car for the ten minute drive to the parlor- tattoo that is. Yup, after many years of boasting that I was glad I had not blemished my body, I was joining in. My husband has 2 tattoos from his younger days. For the longest time I could not understand why people would get a tattoo let alone get several of them. Wasn’t one enough? However, as I struggled with infertility and despaired over becoming a mother, counting loss after loss, I wanted something to mark my triumph of motherhood. I lived in hell for 4 years and I was so proud of my little boy and every day I look at him in awe. Our family story is so special to us, and I began to think about finding an image for a tattoo that would be an inspiration. To justify the action I needed to find just the right picture or symbol celebrating the cosmic way our son came into our lives.


In preparation for our son to come home we had a celebratory party. A baby shower just would not suffice for us because my husband and I had gone through everything together. We had a beautiful black and white cocktail party where my parents house was decorated in black and white adornments, everyone came dressed up, and pictures of Min man were plastered all over the house. My sister-in-law’s sister is a fabulous artist. She designed a black and white stork that was used on the invitations for the party and eventually became a symbol of our adoption journey.

Recently I decided it was time to go for it and get this highly anticipated tattoo. Trying to surprise my husband, I asked a few friends where to go and what to expect. I booked an appointment and had an entire week to think about making the move. When I walked in precisely at 11 am, I felt a little nervous but at ease with my decision. After about ten minutes of waiting I was summoned into the room that was off limits to everyone but those getting “inked.”

I did not know what to expect. Up until this point I had only seen the waiting room and the kind woman taking names. The first thing I saw when I walked in? Several men with sleeved arms and neck tattoos? Of course. More importantly I saw about 20 stuffed animal heads and small full size animals scattered around the room. The first statement I made to the artist was, “If you had any idea how scared I am of stuffed animal heads, you would laugh. The tattoo is nothing to me at this point.”

He chuckled and said, “They’re dead. They’re not going to bother you.”

Ha, ha. I have a true phobia. Even if I do not look at them, I can feel their creepiness and it gives me shivers. As I proceed to speak with the artist about the location of my tattoo, not only do I have to ignore the huge moose behind his right ear but I have to hear that the spot I have chosen is one of the most sensitive there is. I chose the rib cage because I really wanted the tattoo to be private.

We proceeded.

I was the only person in the studio at the time. I lay on my side, caught a glimpse of the stuffed bobcat at my feet and shut my eyes as that infamous sound of the needle sparked my ear drums. I never wanted to back out, I just wanted it over. The tattoo is not very big and it is only black so I knew it would be quick. This is the only thing that got me through the excruciating pain.

In preparation I believed that the pain would more localized to the area of the tattoo. I was so wrong. With the first touch of needle to skin shooting pains went down my legs and into my toes, every nerve was being hit. I did doubt my ability to get through the entire tattoo but then a fleeting thought came to mind. I remembered all of the needles I endured during Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures. I filled up at least 10 sharps containers over 4 years. I had endured the worst kind of needles there are. Areas of my body had been numbed- at times I thought permanently. I have had bruises the size of a cantaloupe. With every new line and stabbing pain inflicted by the creation of my tattoo I remembered the abuse my body took trying to have a baby, having an ectopic pregnancy, and the grief of my situation.
All of a sudden the tattoo was not only a symbol of my lovely son but a tribute to my body and myself for the strength I knew I had. The tattoo hurt like hell but I am glad to be “inked.” I did it for all the right reasons, and when I my husband came home that night and asked me what I did that day, I said, “this” and showed him my armor. His reaction was the best, awe and surprise.

“You really did it!”

“Yes, dear. I did it. Hope you like it.”

Friday, January 15, 2010

Randomonium 1.15.10

Random and Pandemonium.

What life is really all about.
1) Recyle your old greeting cards. St Jude's Ranch for Children.
They are accepting used, all-occasion cards from:
November 15, 2009 - February 28, 2010

You can mail your donations to:
St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street - Boulder City, NV 89005
877-977-SJRC (7572)

The children participate in making the new cards by removing the front and attaching a new back. The result is a beautiful new card made by the children and volunteers. The benefits are two-fold: customers receive "green" holiday cards for use and the children receive payment for their work and learn the benefits and importance of "going green".
2) Hop on over to my friend Sally's blog. She is an adoptive mother and author. Her book was recently released. "What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: A Paren'ts Perspective." She is a director for Parenthood for Me as well. She will delivering the keynote address at our Family Building Dinner in April.
Click here to visit her blog. She asks what you would want a keynote speaker to say at an event like ours.
3) Thank you to Kym at I'm A Smart One for holding a fundraiser for PFM to celebrate her blogoversary. Check out her blog. Her goal is to get a table sponsorship at our Family Building Dinner from the ALI community. What a lovely idea to have everyone there in spirit.
4) Become a fan of Parenthood for Me.org on Facebook. Please suggest to your friends.
"It is not length of life, but depth of life."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Series on Surrogacy- Guest Author


In her every day life, Kymberli is a post-infertility mother to el Cinco: her four kids (all Clomid babies) plus her nephew whom she is raising. Kymberli teaches 8th grade English and her husband, Frank, is a cookie-baking, dinner-cooking, house-cleaning, stay-at-home-dad extraordinaire. Kymberli's alter-ego is a bad ass superhero who has tipped back into the waters of infertility, this time as a gestational surrogate. She's helped one couple build a family with the birth of her surro-son Sam in 2007. In her blog I'm a Smart One, Kymberli discusses the continuation of her efforts to be a surrogate and parenting after infertility.


==============================================================


Since beginning my blog two years ago, many people have contacted me for advice concerning beginning surrogacy journeys either as intended parents or as a surrogate. I’m honored that Erica has asked me to share information that might be helpful individuals and couples who are considering surrogacy as their path to parenthood. Over the next few weeks, I will answer the questions that I am asked most frequently by prospective intended parents.

This introductory post will answer the basic and most important question for both intended parents and surrogates: Where and how do I begin? It will also set the framework for the other important surrogacy considerations; in the coming posts, I'll delve deeper into the emotional and technical aspects mentioned below.


**********
The first step of starting a surrogacy journey isn't placing an ad or signing with an agency; the first step is educating yourself about the surrogacy process and making several decisions as an individual or couple, and then making the dive into surrogacy. It might seem that this is a no-brainer, but it is not uncommon for some prospective intended parents (IPs) and surrogates to jump right into trying to find a match before they even understand the process. First, intended parents should decide on the type of surrogacy they would prefer to purse – traditional or gestational surrogacy.


Traditional vs. Gestational Surrogacy

The most fundamental fact to learn about surrogacy is that there are two types: traditional surrogacy (TS) and gestational surrogacy (GS).
Traditional surrogates conceive through artificial insemination of the intended father's (IF) sperm, either through basic home insemination or through a clinic intrauterine insemination (IUI). Alternatively, donor sperm may be used. In traditional surrogacy, the TS is genetically the mother of baby, and is, in essence, the baby's birth mother.
Gestational surrogates (GS) conceive through IVF transfer of developing embryos. In this case, the surrogate is not related to the baby. Most embryos in a GS arrangement are formed from the intended mother's (IM’s) eggs and the IF's sperm. Though the baby is carried by a surrogate, he or she is completely the genetic offspring of his or her parents.
Sometimes there is a problem with the IM's egg quality, so a fourth party - an egg donor (ED) - is included in the surrogacy process. Conversely, if male-factor infertility is an issue, a sperm donor could be used in a GS arrangement.
In a fewer number of instances, a set of intended parents (IP's) will both have such extensive infertility that they may choose to accept a donation of embryos from another couple, or both donor eggs and sperm are used.
There are even instances of traditional surrogacy via IVF (TS/IVF), in which a surrogate is the egg donor, and then undergoes an IVF transfer of embryos (fertilized with the intended father’s or donor sperm).

Pros and Cons to TS and GS

Traditional surrogacy is less-invasive, less time-consuming, and for IPs, is less-expensive. The central challenge of deciding on traditional surrogacy involves genetics. For a potential TS, this means deciding whether or not she could part with a baby that is genetically hers. For perspective TS IPs, this means feeling comfortable with the knowledge that the child their surrogate carries is her genetic offspring.

Gestational surrogacy alleviates the genetic challenges that are present in traditional surrogacy. The biggest hurdles for gestational surrogacy are the invasive screening procedures, hormone injections and medications, and overall extended length of the entire process. Additionally, for intended parents gestational surrogacy adds costly clinic fees that aren't necessary in traditional surrogacy.

Agency or Independent

Before a match is found, how that match will be found should be determined - either through a surrogacy agency or independently (indy). Through an agency, there is a third party who helps intended parents and surrogates navigate their surrogacy journeys from matching through to the delivery. In indy journeys, surrogates and IPs navigate the entire process themselves.
Agencies handle almost all things related to the surrogacy. They facilitate matching, coordinate attorneys for contracts, pre-screen surrogates, and help arrange clinic appointments. The intended parents and the surrogates can develop their relationships without too many worries about finances or legal aspects. Many surrogates (especially first-timers) opt to go the agency route, as usually it frees them from the worries of being financially "burned" by IP's, where irresponsible IP's leave their surrogates with medical bills or unpaid fees. Agencies are also reassuring for the IP's, as the surrogates have been pre-screened and are already dedicated to the process. Caveat - though agencies hand-walk surrogates and intended parents through the process, not all agencies are equal; if you decide to go the agency route, you should do extensive research on costs, services offered, and track records. This is one instance where word-of-mouth reputation can be priceless.
In an independent journey, intended parents and surrogates do everything by themselves without the use of a third party. Some websites, such as Surrogate Mothers Online (SMO), have classified ads where both surrogates and IPs can outline the type of person they're looking for and the type of journey they want to have. Surrogates and potential intended parents (PIP's) scan the ads, and if one begins to tug at their heartstrings, they can send an email and begin learning about one another. Both parties have complete freedom from start to finish in learning about each other and there is a greater sense of control over what happens through the process. A con to an independent journey is that it leaves both the PIP's and the surrogates more open to scammers who are not true to the heart of the matter - having a baby and respecting all parties involved in the process. With an independent journey, there also is no third party there to handle uncomfortable situations between the IP's and surrogates, so they have to handle any problems that may arise by themselves.
Which route is better - independent or agency? The answer to this question is purely a matter of personal preference and comfort levels. People who do no feel like they are good judges of character or have difficulties handling interpersonal conflicts might feel more comfortable with agencies. People who like to hold the deck versus having the cards dealt to them might prefer going indy.
In all surrogacy situations - GS or TS, independent or agency – prospective intended parents have many other things to consider before even attempting to find a match. How much (or how little) will you feel comfortable paying your surrogate in compensation and related fees? How much contact do you want to have with your surrogate before, during, and after the birth of your child/ren? How do you feel about selective reduction, and in which circumstances would you (or would you not) reduce or terminate? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but in order to have a good match, it is imperative that you know where you stand on these issues, and on which you have room for flexibility or none at all. The key to a good match is finding someone who shares the same mindset as you on as many issues as possible. Matching with someone who has polar opposite views on some of the heavier issues could potentially be a recipe for disaster.
Matching with someone who inherently shares a common vision is essential, so you shouldn't make the foray into something as challenging as surrogacy if you don't even know what to look for in the first place. The best advice I can give to anyone even considering surrogacy either as an intended parent or surrogate is the old adage "look before you leap." There is much to learn before you begin, and even more to learn after you begin. Sometimes, experience is not only the best teacher, but it is the only teacher.

*********

Questions? Post them in the comments, and I'll either answer there or I'll let you know if I intend to cover your answer in more depth in a future post.


You’re also welcome to email me at SmartOneKym AT gmail DOT com.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday- Quotable Quotidian

My Perfect Moment came during my attempt to find my island (see below).
I realized that I have started saying "when" for things that always used to be
prefaced by "if" or "if,then."
I am so thankful for my mind aligning with my heart. They are
getting along better now.
I feel very optimistic about many things that used to plague me.
Here's to "when" moments and the perfection of having control over your own life.






The "Quotable Quotidian" can be words of wisdom, famous quotes,

not-so-famous quotes, lines of poetry, a line from a favorite song, etc.

It can be your own insight and creativity or that of another; give credit where credit is due.

If you read something or hear something and feel inspired, share it here.

If you participate, please put a link on your post to return here so everyone can see your words
of wisdom, have a laugh or be inspired.
There is a button on my side bar to add to your post.


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I have spoken often of my love for the Thousand Islands.
Here is a quote from the book, "Of Time and an Island" by John Keats.


Background: This is a true life story of John and his wife Margaret. They were given a wonderful opportunity to purchase an island from her brother who is wealthy. The couple toils with the predicament of affordability and passing up the chance of a lifetime.


It is a crossroads of sorts. The decision is monumental and life altering.


"We were being offered an opportunity to buy something that cannot be sold. After all, what value can you put on sunlight silences, deep clear water, the changing light on antique stone, the comfort of trees, the mysteries of fishing, on making love on the summer grasses of an island of your own?...There is no monetary exchange that can assign a value to privacy or freedom."


"Each of us needs something of an island in his life- if not an actual island, at least some place, or space in time, in which to be himself, free to cultivate his difference from others."


"We could not afford to buy the island. But neither could we afford not to buy the island."


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This rings true on many levels.
There is a strong parallel with my feelings on trying to have a family.
There is no value to be placed on raising a child, loving a child, being a parent.
For some, like my husband and I, we had to find ways financially to create our family.
For us there was no other choice. For many there is no other choice.
The desire is too strong.


I hope everyone finds their island. I am slowly finding mine.


And, I also hope you have a place like the Thousand Islands in your life.
A place of history, beauty, and full of the richness of life and nature.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Extra, Extra...

read all about it!

As I ponder the decline of the print newspaper. (My parents still ask me every other week if we get the paper at home.)

Here is some news in my world.

Thank you to Sheri for this lovely award. I really appreciate the thought and will add it to my side bar.






Also Sock It To Me is baaaccckkkkk! Check out Kym's blog I'm A Smart One to participate. What a great way to connect with our fellow bloggers.

Click here to read my post from last time. My socks kick arse, quite literally.

And, Parenthood for Me is looking for sponsors and donors for our Family Building Dinner and Silent Auction April 10. We need to build our endowment. Our first grants are being awarded in June 2010.

We are offering a table sponsorship for $250. A sign goes on the table, there is a mention in the program and on our website.

We are also looking for items for the silent auction. We will pay for shipping within reason.
All donations are tax deductible.

Here are some examples:

  1. Sports teams jersey's, hockey sticks, tickets, etc. (signed if possible)
  2. Artwork
  3. Hand bags, boutique items
  4. Home decor items

The value of the item should be at least $100. but we have been pairing items that go well together such as 2 donations of jewelry.

Off to eat home made peanut butter swirl brownies prepared by my husband. First day out of bed in four days. Had a horrible cold and so glad the worst is over.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

He'll Always Be My Baby

Remember the scene in Father of the Bride circa 1990 version where the daughter, Annie comes home from Italy and tells George Banks that she is getting married? He immediately flashes back to when she is 6 years old and hears her news from his little girls perspective. To him she will always be his baby.

When Min man sits on his little training potty looking up at me saying, "pee pee coming," I imagine that this is the picture I will always have in my head as he grows older. When he towers over me and becomes a man, tells me he's in love or graduates school, I will think back to that little face and remember my son when he was 2 years old. And I will never forget my favorite sayings.

Here are some favorites:

1. Christmas tree= cranberry tree

2. Whenever he saw a reindeer he asked if his nose hurt- Rudolph's nose is bright red so it hurts

3. "A cow jumps a moon"= The cow jumping over the moon from "Goodnight Moon."

4. "Good job, Mom" when I back the car up or park it.

5. "I sit a me"= I sit with mom

2010 is a year of many big accomplishments.
Hopefully potty training will be complete.
Pre-school may be on the horizon.
Anniversary of adoption day.
Birthday #3.

Everyday is a new adventure. Every day I am blessed and grateful.

Oh, and I promise now that I will never sneak into my future in-laws bathroom snooping around in their medicine cabinet or go through their office and rifle through their desk and walk off with their checkbook. (such a good movie)

Happy 2010 to all.

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