Friday, October 18, 2019

Surprise! We're having a....

Oh, hello there. 

I know it's been quite a while since I sat down and shared some updates with each and every one of you. I pride myself on keeping an open and honest community at Bumblebee & Tot, but we haven't been as open with you all about some exciting life developments headed our way.

But, there's a good reason for all of that. I just wasn't ready to share the full story. It's a lot. But today, I'm ready. We've traveled so far the past 18 months to get where we are today and I'm incredibly proud of the strength and perseverance our entire family showed. And honestly, I'm proud of myself for being ready to share it all with our community and be secure in the decisions I made to get us to this point. I'm not going to lie, I've started and stopped this update a 100 times so bear with me on this.

Where do I even start? I guess at the beginning.

Our sweet girl - Tot. She came into this world full of joy and so much grace for our entire family. I don't think she'll ever know how much we all needed her sweet smile and giggles. But, post-partum life for me wasn't straight-forward. It wasn't a quick 6 weeks of healing and then back to life. I struggled with some side effects that just wouldn't go away. As moms, we're taught to hold back from sharing too much of these details, and instead sweep them under the rug (but, that's for another post)...

Prior to having our baby girl, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. They told us it would be difficult to conceive. Oh, how wrong were they!

God clearly had other plans for us and getting pregnant with our little girl was the best surprise. Once we had moved back to DC, the Mr. encouraged me to go see my specialist who had performed prior surgeries with my endometriosis to see what we could do. I won't get into all the gory details, but after a few more surgeries and lots of blood work and MRI - I was diagnosed with adenomyosis. It was a life changing moment for me as a new mom - to finally realize that I wasn't imagining it. That something was wrong and post-partum recovery shouldn't be this difficult.

We spent months battling hormone treatments, absurd amounts of birth control, etc. to try and contain the adenomyosis. But, it raged on and refused to be controlled. I couldn't get through the day without a nap or 2. My body was dragging me down and we didn't really know where to look next. I sat down in my specialists office and burst into tears. I was trapped and didn't know how else to fix this. We had tried all that modern medicine had to offer and it only had gotten worst. The only true solution for adenomyosis? A hysterectomy.

As a couple, we knew once we were done having children I'd have the surgery to rid my body of the endometriosis. The thought of having a hysterectomy didn't scare me. What did was that we weren't finished growing our family. I wanted Tot to have a sibling in her life, I wanted to share our love with one more child. We just weren't done. But, as I went through this journey I learned that families are built in so many ways and there were angels on this earth who graciously gave their time to help couples like us bring life into this world. These angels? Gestational carriers. There was a path, we didn't have to be done.

The rock through all of this was my sweet husband. I would be remiss not to thank him for his pillar of strength. None of this is easy. Watching your wife going through this, knowing that you can't change this - he handled this like a champion. He was also very clear with me that while this decision would effect our lives as a whole, it was my body and I had to do what I believed was best. I will thank him a million times over for supporting me, wiping my tears when I was struggling just to get by, and pushing me to make the best decision I could for our family. He was the definition of the bees knees.

I won't get into all the details around the final factors, but we reached a breaking point with my condition where a hysterectomy was the only logical path. June 2018 - I was wheeled into surgery and I have not looked back.

You see, I am one of the lucky women. I was in control of my body and able to make the decision that was best for me and for my family. I wasn't forced into this decision because of a medical emergency or because a doctor made the choice for me. I'm one of the lucky ones. So many women aren't. While adenomyosis is a terrible condition, I was still in complete control of my surgery and when I was ready to say goodbye to it all. To this day, I can't explain it - but, the moment I woke from surgery, I was in a complete state of calm. It was a feeling of ease, like I could finally have my body back.

Recovery wasn't easy, but I pulled through relatively easy and was ready to battle our next chapter - IVF and surrogacy.

A huge thank you to my sister. Boy, that girl has battled every infertility challenge life could throw your way, but she hopped on a plan the second I had a post-op complication and helped me back on my feet while making Tot laugh. She put aside her own struggle to help me with mine. Victoria, you're one of a kind and I can't thank you enough.

A few weeks post-op, I jumped into the world of IVF. Again, being one of the lucky ones meant I was able to develop a plan with my surgeon and we were able to save my ovaries so I raced to take the next steps to build our little embryos and officially start our surrogacy journey.

To my IVF Mama's - ladies, that is not easy. Not at all. I only had to briefly step into this world, but I hold onto that experience tightly. The time and commitment it takes to fulfill a fertility plan is astronomical. I wish I could shout this out from the rooftop, but truly - you are inspirational. You're rockstars and the pain you endure to bring life into this world is life changing. Please don't ever forget how magical you are for getting through IVF. 

Fast forward a couple months and we had beautiful embryos to call our own.

Next step? Research surrogacy. 

Googling it didn't really help and I knew I needed to find the most cost-effective way to do this. We hadn't spent years saving like most families, but we were also very blessed with companies who were incredibly supportive and assisted with some of the initial costs (IVF etc.). All in all, were were the lucky ones (sensing a theme yet?).

I'm a creative and scrappy girl, probably the reason I work where I work so I took to Facebook to see what I could find. I researched state regulations, insurance claim codes, financial aspects, surrogacy contracts - the whole works. I knew what attorney I wanted to work with and that we weren't going to use an agency for a match (typically an additional $20K cost) because I was going to do it myself. I was a one-woman machine with an incredibly supportive husband pushing me forward. It wasn't for the faint of heart and I still am in disbelief I did it all myself. If I've seemed distracted or busy the last year or so - there's a good chance I was emailing, calling, or googling a solution to a surrogacy issue. But, ...

We found our angel.

In the midst of all the posts on Facebook and all the unanswered emails, we found our gestational carrier - all in God's time.

Sidenote: if you want specifics on surrogacy and the process of finding your match independently - please reach out to me directly. Happy to help in any way I can. I've been able to help two (2) other couples start their families and it honestly makes me so happy to have God use me in this light. 

Our angel is warm and kind. She's a safe space and honestly, she has become a dear friend who happens to be carrying our bundle of joy. I know I can call her with any crazy things and she will calm my nerves and laugh with me when I know I'm being ridiculous. We have an open and transparent relationship and that was a huge reason why we chose to go through this journey independently.

But, she will also remain private to all of you.

Her family are some of the sweetest, kindest souls we have met. I knew from that first breakfast date in September that we would always be connected. We will have a lifetime connection that I will nourish through lots of family visits and adventures. But, because we've fallen so in love with them, I want to protect her and her family and will not be sharing any pictures or tidbits of our surrogate. Just know - she's one of the good ones and I'm so blessed we met more than a year ago. It truly was fate.

Once we finalized contracts and relocated our embryos to a clinic closer to our surrogate, we were ready to rock n roll. And last March, we transferred our little babe and have been watching him grow ever since. We've kept it relatively private as we truly were just unsure of this whole journey and whether we would be successful. So many aren't and hit multiple roadblocks, but we've somehow found a way to overcome and get through. Trust me, it hasn't always been easy and the legality of it all is a bit messy at times - but, we are so incredibly lucky and we try to remind ourselves of this daily. Surrogacy is financially difficult from all aspects and tends to be the largest obstacle for most families. We were able to pull together the resources and find the support to move ahead quickly and we know that is not always the case with fertility treatments and surrogacy. We really were lucky on all accounts.

Yes, this isn't the ideal path to growing a family but in today's world...there are SO many ways to build a family outside of having your own children. Adoption, surrogacy, fostering - a family is built on love and I hope me being more open with this journey will allow others to realize that there are options. While we didn't struggle with formal infertility so many around us have seen losses that are simply unimaginable. They happen every day without us knowing and I wish we could find ways to consistently hold these families up in love and support because they need it the most. 

I hope courageously sharing our story encourages women to explore their family building options. If that is the reason for all of this than I am thankful.

Please encourage anyone you know struggling with fertility to reach out to me. Send them this blog. Let them know that this is a safe space and I am here for any and all questions they have. We were put on this path for a reason and I truly believe it is to share our journey and hold another Mama's hand through theirs.

We are the lucky ones and we finally get to announce that we are expecting a beautiful baby boy in November!

Consolvo - party of 4 (+ Cosette, obviously) heading your way...

Photography: Still Blessings Photography (Northern Virginia)
Location: Stone Tower Winery

Mama's OOTD: SheIn and Shop Talulah
Tot's OOTD: Shrimp & Grits Kids
Baby C's OOTD: Pippa Layette 
Daddy's OOTD: JCrew 
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