Saturday, November 29, 2014

Today, I am thankful...

      The holidays have become a time to think about what we do not have and what we need. We have become overcome with desires and wants. The holiday season has lost its meaning. No longer are we satisfied and content with the present, instead we focus on the presents. As kids we make lists; pages and pages long of things, items we need and want. We as adults, we are constantly running around buying and purchasing things and creating lists of what we need to get and buy and do. I myself am guilty, always making lists. Grocery lists of food we need to buy, lists of bills we need to pay, lists of dates we need to remember for commitments we have upcoming. Ask any child for what they want for the holidays and within seconds you can have a 20 page list of ideas. Even asking my husband I was given a list quickly of items he wanted and needed; new sneakers, clothes, electronics. As he asked me mine, I could honestly not produce a list. Each year when asked, my response is similar; "I don't really want anything, I don't really need anything." But this year, for the very first time in 32 years, that statement is absolutely true. I suppose the one thing I could really want is more. More time with all my loved ones, more laughs with my friends, more memories. The things we all truly want can not possibly be wrapped and topped with a bow.

After all the talk of lists I began to think; why not a list of what I already have? Although we do not have kids yet, we have decided to begin a tradition that in the future we can pass on and do with our kids when they are here. After the list to Santa of what we want, a list of what we are thankful for. We spend a mere one day of the year, 1 out of 365, to give thanks. Why not more? Let's remind our family, our friends, and ourselves for that matter of what we have, rather than what we need. 
"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."
This past year has truly been amazing and provided me with many wonderful opportunities.There have been some difficulties thrown our way this year, but I am even thankful for that. Those hard times have reminded me to appreciate what we have and who we have in our lives. Some people have shown their true colors, which have become shades we aren't interested in coloring our lives with. We have been humbly reminded that everything happens for a reason, some reasons just take a little while longer to become known. But this year, more than any other before,  I have so much to be thankful for. I married the love of my life and gained not only a husband but a brother, nephew, and for the first time in a long time, parents :)  We ourselves became "parents" and adopted a rescue dog who I honestly think saved our lives just as much as we saved his. And as of October 29th, we became homeowners! We recently purchased a house and couldn't be any happier and more excited for all of the possibilities of future memories. With a year full of such great joys and this list of what I am thankful for , how can I possibly come up with a list of anything I want? 
This year, the journey to parenthood has continued, by becoming more widely heard. I have been presented with so many wonderful opportunities to increase the audience for the blog, and share my story with more women and couples. I was fortunate enough to be interviewed on WTNH by the talented, Ann Nyberg, to discuss my blog; ( I was also honored to be named Blogger of the Year by; ( ) and be interviewed on their site ( I was also blessed to be featured in a two page article featuring my story and blog in the number one fertility magazine; Fertility Road! So many people have been asking when the next step towards becoming parents will happen, and as much as we can not wait to become parents, we are taking the time to enjoy the now and being married." Eat, drink, and be married?" ;)

Now it is your turn, grab a pen and paper. So, go ahead, as you are jotting down your holiday lists, make THE list. What in your life are you thankful for? 

"There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for." 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

All I Ever Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?

 Back to school time is upon us, and I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic as I watch all of the students boarding their buses, off to the place where some of the most important lessons are learned. I, like many of you, could not wait to grow up and be an adult. If only I knew then what I know now. Gone are the days where your biggest problem was who you were eating lunch with and if you could convince your parents to let you have a sleepover this upcoming weekend. In such a rush to grow up, I failed to see the important lessons being presented to me on a daily basis. Looking back, I realize these lessons and the importance they still have in our lives as adults. The truth is, the learning never stops once we are done with school. It just carries over into the real lessons, in the classroom of life. So class, here's a chalkboard of ideas....

1. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. The "Golden Rule" so many teachers drilled into our minds still rings true today. It's that basic and simple. Be nice to one another, talk to people with the respect and kindness you wish to receive. Be kind. Every one you meet is fighting a battle you may not be aware of.

2. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. If I had a dollar for each time that phrase was spoken to me as a child I would be hanging along side Bill Gates cruising on my yacht. This quote speaks true to many. Why do we feel the need as adults to be so rude to one another? To speak ABOUT someone when we could be speaking TO them? Why must someone speak poorly about someone else, putting them down, rather than building them up? Be nice or be quiet.

3. Along the same lines, I have learned that some people are always going to have something to say, and you can not please everyone. So instead,  please yourself.  Do not succumb to people's hurtful and vindictive words, instead view them as a reflection of their own internal struggles. But do not fight fire with fire as they say. Do not be mean in return, sit back and let it burn out. No one should spend their lives as a "firefighter", constantly battling these fires either. So know when to cut ties and when to walk away. Some people are in your lives as lessons themselves, so learn what you can from them and the situation and be done.

4. Do not judge a book by it's cover. Unless of course, that book is the dictionary, then judge away because it is just a bunch of words and definitions; BORINGGGGG. I myself am guilty of this, it is so much easier to make assumptions based on what we do not know rather than take the time to get to know someone and then base an honest opinion. Everyone knows what they say about assumptions........If you do not take the time to get to know someone, the only assumptions you should be making should be about yourself and assume that you are anti-social ;)

5. It is better to give than it is to receive. So extremely true, whether it is as generic as a gift or as simple as a compliment. Giving a little piece of yourself to someone will never be a bad thing. In the spirit of giving, remember it is presence, not presents that will fulfill you. The materialistic things in life that are important. Money is not everything, in fact it isn't anything if you don't have someone to share it with. Surround yourself with positivity, with people who love and appreciate you.

6. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. Life will not always go as planned. Things will go wrong, things will not always work in your favor. Do not stop trying to make it work that way for you. You are the master of your own destiny, and you and you alone can make anything happen. Just don't you quit!! Does anyone else remember the Choose your own ending books as kids?  The beginning started out with one story and then the reader had the option of several endings. How many people chose one ending? Most would choose one and then go back, not fully satisfied with the ending they chose and pick again. Similiar to life, you can not change the beginning but you can still choose the ending. And if you aren't happy, keep choosing until you find the best possible happy ending!

7. Be the type of friend you would like to have. Listen to one another, truly listen. Sometimes listening requires you being able to hear what isn't being said. Laugh, cry, and share with those people who deserve your amazingness.
Share. Share your time, share your feelings, share your life with someone you love. No matter how badly you have been hurt, do not be afraid to share every part of yourself. You may feel broken, but there is someone out there who will be able and willing to help you with all of the pieces.

8. Know your worth. You are the one and only person in this world who will love you unconditionally. Yes, your family and friends love you, but you need to possess the self confidence to know how wonderful you are. Regardless of your past, of what you have been through, you are here right now and you have survived everything that you encountered. You are strong, you are a survivor, you are loved.

9. Be strong, but weak enough to not build up walls around yourself. Let people in. People will hurt you, people will say rude, unkind, and untrue things about you. Smile. Breathe, and forgive. The people who need the most forgiveness often deserve it the least.  Choose your battles. Life is too short to be miserable. Focus on all of the positive and wonderful in your life.

10. Life will pass you in the blink of an eye if you let it. So, open your eyes wide and take in every moment. Do something everyday that makes you smile. Laugh more than you cry. Live life to the fullest. Life is a wild roller coaster, full of ups and downs, but you have a choice. You can choose to either squeeze your eyes shut and miss out on the ride, or throw your hands up and enjoy the ride. Buckle up!

Maybe we all need to take a note from Billy Madison and head on back to school and start from the beginning, to remind ourselves of the genuine and true lessons that we were taught as children. It worked for us then, perhaps a crash course would do us all a little good. All of life is constant education. Class dismissed! :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action!

 The name of the blog may be What to Expect When You Are NOT Expecting, but what happened this week was completely unexpected. This week I was provided with an opportunity to film an interview with Ann Nyberg of WTNH here in New Haven, CT to air on her program, Nyberg. Being able to openly and candidly discuss my most sensitive feelings and topics in the comfort of my own home is far easier than sitting across from a news anchor I admire and share my story for viewers to see.This was a whole new playing field. Similiar to a minnow moving out of the comfort of his small fish bowl to a 30 gallon tank,  all I could do was remind my minnow self to keep swimming.  I was so extremely nervous for the two weeks leading up to it that I contemplated canceling the interview on several occasions. I am a writer, not a speaker. The more I debated, the more the profound, deep words of one of my favorite philosophers ran through my mind. Eminem's lyrics spoke to me. "You only get one shot, one opportunity, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime." Okay, so he may not be a philosopher, and I may not rapping down 8 mile rocking a sweet bleached buzz cut; but this week I was able to feel and live the words of Eminem for a brief hour. This was my opportunity to share my story with others, to allow myself and my story to be heard.  This writer was given a chance to turn my written words into spoken ones; a chance to allow my writing to speak for itself. 
Whether it is written or spoken, my story was heard. I was able to remain calm and fought back the tears that welled up during the interview as I did not want to appear too emotional, but I was, I am emotional. I courageously blinked the tears back and spoke about my blog as I attempted to emotional detach myself from the topics we were discussing. Having the support of my husband next to me, and hearing him speak of how he felt proud of me, and how strong I have been during all of this made me admire him and our experience even more. This "situation", our road to becoming parents is tough, but we are tougher. Our bond is stronger and we will be parents one day.

           I used to wonder why this happened to me, and why I had to experience these situations. Life doesn't happen to you, sometimes it happens FOR you. This blog is my story, my deepest and most painful truths, but this blog is also other women's story. The purpose of this blog started as a therapeutic outlet for me, a way to release all of the emotions that IVF and surrogacy brings, but it has become something more. Something I didn't see coming, but sometimes the best things in life are unseen. This blog has become my silver lining to IVF and surrogacy. My mom always stressed the importance of finding the silver lining in any situation. This blog allows me to use my pain, suffering and struggle and turn that into a way to help other women going through this. To remind them, and myself, that we are not alone in this. That what we are feeling and what we are going through is unfortunate, but its not what you go through but how you go through it that matters. If this blog can demonstrate to other women that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes its just a longer tunnel than others. Or sometimes you need support to help you see that tiny glimmer of light at the end. It is there, I promise. My story is living proof that even in the darkest times, there is a light, a ray of hope at the end; just keep walking.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Where Do Babies Come From???

This very easily worded question causes great debate and stress for many parents. I used to laugh at the wide eyed parents quickly searching their minds for a reasonable yet vague answer to their small innocent child's question. But this evening, after overhearing a child at the store ask his father where babies come from, I felt a wave of anxiousness and fear rush over me. How would I one day answer this question to my child? "Mommy, where do babies come from?" Hmmmm, let's see, Mommy's belly won't work in this case and telling a small child he or she came from another woman's belly is even more confusing and scary. Perhaps we can go with the traditional stork answer, as it is not too far off. It may not be a bird swooping over my house and dropping a blanket clad baby on my doorstep; but it will be another woman delivering my sweet bundle of joy to me. Or we can keep it basic and to the point; the freezer. Yes, the freezer, because that is where you will be coming from my little one. Just push aside the carton of chocolate ice cream and frozen waffles to find a baby. I can just picture that; coming home to find my child on a step stool frantically throwing frozen meats and ice cubes on the ground as I scream; "What are you doing!?" to be answered by my doe eyed child that they are looking for a sibling. Okay, so clearly none of my brainstorming ideas are panning out. I have decided instead I will be honest and upfront and tell you my little one the complete truth. Every child deserves to know where they come from. So get ready. My reply will be; babies come from the heart. Because it is the truth. No matter how babies get to their parents,  they come from the heart. Every parent has a place in their heart for their child that begins to grow and fill the minute they plan for their baby. The moments dreaming and wishing of them cause that place to grow further. And that magical moment where they learn of their child's impending arrival, whether they are naturally conceived, adopted, or created with the help of science,  the HOW they got here doesn't seem so important, but the answer to WHERE remains the same; every child comes from the heart. No matter how that baby gets to your arms, the moment your eyes look down at that new life, the center of yours, you and your baby both know where they came from and where they belong.

 Let me draw you a map my dear child, because just like those large maps in a mall, with the big arrow pointing out where you are; here is a big picture of a heart with an arrow. YOU ARE HERE. So, my little miracle, years from now, when your question appears; where do babies come from? I will be ready with my answer. Quickly and simply without any hesitation; my heart. You may not get to grow under mine, but you will grow in it. In fact, you already are. There is already a spot reserved for you, a hole and an emptiness that no one besides you can fill. The "stork" may get to carry  you, but I carry you in my heart.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Handle with Care

I love gifts. Honestly, who doesn't? Even more than receiving a gift, I love giving them. Most gifts come wrapped, packaged carefully with precision and attention to detail. Some gifts however, require no shiny paper or bag. I am relatively sure I have not made a gift since my childhood, but this one is sure to be better than any macaroni necklace or ashtray I ever made in my youth. It is a gift I have been working on for years, one that will fit perfectly alongside the ones I made in my younger years. I pride myself on how I attempt to give someone something they really want or need, something that they may have mentioned so long ago they cant even remember they told me. Or sometimes I just have the perfect present in mind without much thought needed at all. Like this Fathers Day gift I have come up with. 

Each year I debate sending a card, but searching through Hallmark I was unable to find "For the Man Who Helped to Give Me Life & Then Walked Out of It" category. This year I have a message that doesn't even need a card to be heard. It is a gift that needs no card attached, a gift that needs to be delivered once and for all. So to the man that is not present in my life, I have decided to give you a present. In all reality,this gift isn't for you though Dad, its actually for me. Call me selfish, but its a present nonetheless. This year I am giving you the gift of forgiveness. Absolute forgiveness. I forgive you for walking away, for leaving us and causing us to grow up with no parents. I forgive you for giving up on my sister and I, and for deciding to live your life without us in it. I forgive you for choosing to put yourself and your new life before us. I forgive you for missing out on the biggest and most exciting moments of my life thus far. I forgive you for not cheering me on as I accepted my college degree, or holding my hand and giving me away to my husband on our wedding day. I forgive you for not being there when I was sick, hugging me and telling me it would be alright. I even forgive you for not being there for me after my hysterectomy, when I needed someone to calm my nerves and assure me that I was a fighter and would be okay. I needed you to be there all those times when Mom couldn't be, to be both parents, but you couldn't even be one. And for that, I forgive you. Whether you realize it or not, you have helped me to become the strong independent woman I am today. I am a fighter, I am tough and I am able to always search for that silver lining because thanks to you, I know that no matter how bad things are there is something good that can come out of it. I know because of you, that you can not change what happens to you, but you can decide how it will happen to you, how you will react and grow from it. You have taught me exactly how I do not want to act as a parent.You have reminded me to always put my family first and tell and show people you love them. To make sure my children know how much they are loved and that no matter what happens, I am there for them. I may not yet be a Mom, but I am and will be a better parent because of you and all of the life lessons you and your absence have taught me. I already have a heart full of love and can not imagine my life without children. I can however, imagine it without a father. This gift is a one size fits most, and the return policy doesn’t exist. Whether you want this gift or not is up to you, but giving it is mine. My choice to make room in my life for all the good memories that are going to replace all of these negative ones from you. Soon it will be spent celebrating my husband and the love he has for our children. We all have someone in our past who may benefit from this same gift, a gift that seems as though its easy to give but in fact it may be the most difficult gift I have ever parted with. The gift of forgiveness, a gift that truly does keep on giving. 
     I am giving this gift of forgiveness because in all complete honesty it is something I want and need for me and me alone.Because forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. I am going to forgive you so that I can be free of my painful past with you. I wont' be able to hold onto the happiness the present and future are holding for me if my hands and heart are full of the pain and bitterness that I have now with you, because of you. So this Fathers Day, I forgive you Dad because forgiveness isn't something we do for other people, its something we do for ourselves. Since our children are awaiting us in the freezer ;) I am in the meantime taking advice from another Frozen entity, the Disney movie, and  deciding to"let it go". Forgiveness is my gift to you, and moving on is my gift to myself.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Today My Life Begins

There is one day every woman plans for. The day every little girl dreams of, a day full of white lace, sparkles, hope, and love. Like most women, from the time I was a  young girl, I knew every detail of my wedding day. Or so I thought I did. I envisioned my Mom helping me get ready for the biggest day of my life, helping me button and bustle my dress, pulling back my hair, and telling me numerous times how absolutely beautiful I am and what a gorgeous bride I was. I pictured my Dad wiping his tears as he escorted me down the aisle to the love of my life, the man that would replace him as the man in my life.

On April 12, 2014 this day I had dreamed of became a reality. My reality was a bit different than what I had dreamed of. While the day may not have gone exactly as I had previously envisioned, I can say with complete honesty it went even better. This day, more than others reminded me how fortunate I am to be blessed with an amazing support system. For months, as the wedding day got closer, I had been able to push through. To forget the pit in my stomach, to ignore the throbbing pain in my heart, the small twinge of pain I felt every time I was reminded my Mom wouldn't be at my wedding, or my father. I have grown up for a large portion of my life without my mother, and most days it is tolerable, but planning a wedding without your parents is rough. Bracing yourself for the questions that are unavoidable while holding back the tears that want so desperately to fall. "No flowers for the mother of the bride?",   "What color dress is the mother of the bride wearing?", "Which song will you be dancing to for the father daughter dance?".  On my wedding day, the tears I had held back for so long were unable to do so anymore. I cried as I pinned my mothers picture to my bouquet for her to be with me for the walk down the aisle, I cried as I looked at myself in the mirror in my wedding dress and realized how very much I looked like my mother. Tears fell even harder as every guest reminded me of that fact. I cried as I grabbed my mom's brothers arm to escort down the aisle to get married. Grateful for someone who loves me to be walking with me, but sad as I was bitterly reminded my father wasn't the one beside me. And boy oh boy did I cry, in fact I sobbed as I saw Lou waiting at the altar for me. Each step closer to Lou, and each tear that fell down my face represented the pain I had held in for so many years. I cried for my past, and who wasn't there; my mother and father, but I also cried tears of joy as I walked to my future. This walk down the aisle symbolized a new beginning, an official start to a new life, and a time to leave the old life behind. On my wedding day, I was able to literally and figuratively leave the past behind.  I have no doubts that my Mom was there with me, from the moment I woke up and saw the sun shining, on the most beautiful day of the year so far, I knew she was there. I know she was probably telling me to stop crying because I was ruining my makeup, reminding me to smile and show off all those years of orthodontic torture. I know she was there as each tear that fell from my eyes, telling me to savor every moment of today and every day. To take it all in and appreciate every second. To enjoy my future with the man who has helped to remind me of what love is and how to be loved.  I know she was there, thanking Lou for loving her daughter and for being there for me in the ways she no longer can. She was there, and she will always be; "I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart."
As one door closes, another opens. And this door is gleaming full of new opportunities and experiences. My wedding day ended up being everything I had hoped for and more. I am blessed to have married my bestfriend, and I gained not only a husband, but an amazing set of parents, and a brother. Sometimes life doesn't give you what you want, but it gives you what you need. I am lucky enough to finally have both.
It is great to dream, but every so often reality ends up being even better than what you dreamed of. Most fairytales have one major similarity, they all have a happy ending. This fairytale, my fairytale, is instead focusing only on its happy beginning. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Today my life begins.

Monday, February 3, 2014

One Step Closer

The new year. A fresh page, a fresh start, another chance it get it all right. This is my year, a year full of big and exciting changes. Everyone refers to to the new year as a time to start over, with a clean slate. This is the year for me to do all of those things, and in the biggest, most positive way imaginable. This is the year that we will begin our journey to having a baby and becoming parents. This is the year  I will say "I do" in the most literal sense. In a mere 68 days I will become a wife. . This is the year I get to change not only my last name, marital and parental status but the year my happily ever after begins. All beginnings must come from another beginnings end, and for me this is the most pristine time to allow myself to close the chapters of my life that a part of the past, a part of my story that has led me to where I am now, but does not allow me to fully move forward until I can leave it behind and turn the page.

Naturally with my wedding approaching rapidly, I am filled with a small feeling of bitter sweetness, while I am completely excited and counting down to the big day, the harsh realization that my father not being the one to walk me down the aisle was initially upsetting. After all I have experienced and all the hurt and pain I have because of him, it is still every little girls vision to be walked down the aisle by her crying father, as she sees the pain of her Daddy giving her away to another man becomes reality. Sadly, my father gave me away years ago, and the only one crying was me. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have my uncle, my mother's youngest brother accompanying me on the most important walk of my life. He will be the man who gets the honor of walking me down the aisle to my loving future husband, the man who dries my tears  of joy and hands me over to the man who loves me unconditionally ; the role my father is missing out on. I can not help but feel saddened knowing my mom will not be there physically to share in my special day. While my mother will not be sitting amongst my favorite people in the world, I know she will be there. She will be there in every smile, every tear drop, and every sound of laughter. She will be there while I am getting dressed, while I am staring down the aisle to my future and walking towards my new life. She will be the whisper in my ear, telling me I am the most beautiful bride she has ever seen, I know it because she is with me. "I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart." She is already the biggest part of this fairy tale of mine because I know in my heart of hearts that she led me to Lou and gave me the one man who has fixed me in every sense of the word. He has filled the empty parts of my heart with more compassion and love than anyone I have ever known. Every heartache and ounce of pain my past has caused has led me to Lou, and I thank my mother for that.

While it is hard to not  think of who will not be there, it is much easier thanks to those who will be and have gone above and beyond already to make sure my wedding day is the best day of my life. My sister, my maid of honor, has gone above and beyond her role to ensure that I feel as loved and special as any bride should. My bridesmaids, my friends, Lou's family, and my family have helped to make sure that the void of my moms presence is filled with the extreme amounts of love and support they have all offered, and for that I am beyond grateful.

"Sometimes in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale."To me, this walk down the aisle will be a walk away from the past and towards my new beginning. Each step down the aisle is one step closer to the start of my fairy tale.  My happily every after begins now.