what it’s like: to go through the fostering process.

Ahh, if you have been around the trying to conceive world at all, my friend Elisha is no stranger to you. She writes over at Waiting for Baby Bird, runs a Facebook encouragement group that supports of 37,000 women, and loves on women in her in-home infertility support group, The Nest.

I have had the privilege of meeting this sweet friend in 2016 and am thrilled that we are speaking at the same conference together in a few weeks, The Hope Narrative. She’s funny, heart-felt, and an encouragement to this community. I am so honored to have her sharing her story as a foster parent today!

Elisha, thank you for sharing your time and story with us … and I can’t wait to hug you in less than 2 weeks! Whooohoooo!

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Our friend Caroline, Elisha and I

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My prayer team … Elisha is a POWER PRAYER


Day 1: The doorbell rang and when I opened it, there she was, a beautiful three-year-old little princess who was barely 34 inches tall. She had a small white stuffed animal kitty tucked underneath your left arm; a thumb stuck tight in her mouth, and on top of her head was a pigtail that looked like a palm tree. Her smile warmed my heart as I said hello and showed her the room she would be sleeping in for the next 30 days while her Momma was trying to get back on her feet. Little did anyone know that the 30 days would turn into 90 days and 90 days would soon turn into 180 days and 180 days would somehow turn into 1,273.

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So much happened between day 1 and day 1,273. So many fun memories, belly laughs, birthday parties, and vacations. I’ll never forget the time her toes touched the ocean for the first time and a wave knocked her to the ground. She giggled. I giggled. And then we chased the birds while stopping to pick up every single sea shell.

Dan and Mikayla on Swing

But as you might have already guessed, or perhaps already know through experience, foster parenting is not always tea parties and coloring books. And trying to explain the ups and downs and the battle that rages within is hard.

In fact for weeks I have sat at my computer desk trying to find the words to perfectly and neatly articulate what it is like to be a foster parent and care for another person’s child whom you love like your own. But after hours of typing and then deleting, I have given up on trying to articulate it in such a neat and tidy manner because the fact of the manner is…I can’t. Foster care is messy; therefore this article will probably be messy too. My thoughts might jump from one facet of foster care to the next and without warning; which honestly, that’s what fostering parenting is like. Everything is a mystery and nothing can be expected. Your whole world could change in the blink of an eye. The child you took to school that morning might not return to your home that evening. I believe this is why as a foster parent you are told so often to expect the unexpected; which I faithfully did, just not always in a healthy manner.

Me and Mikayla 2014

I can’t tell you how many times while tucking her into bed and getting her snug as a bug in a rug the reality of the situation would hit me like a freight train and I would begin to weep as I imagined it being the last time I would wish her sweet dreams as I blew her kisses goodnight.

With each court hearing I would pace the floor as I imagined the worst. What if the judge would announce that it’s time…time to pack her bags, box up her toys, and prepare her for a new life with a new normal? What if he would order her to a new home? It was highly unlikely they would ever move her anywhere else but back home to be with her Momma, however the thought and the fear was always still there, lurking.

And don’t get me started on the places my imaginations would take me each and every time the phone would ring or the case worker would show up unannounced. Talk about moments when your heart would stop and you would have to remind yourself to breathe again! Ay, yi, yi!

I would even subject myself to self-inflicted torment on a regular basis as I would allow my heart to feel what it would be like to strap her into the backseat of a state owned and operated vehicle, then shut the door and wave goodbye to her for the final time. Talk about a box of Kleenexes!

I once read a quote while in the midst of the 1,273 days of uncertainty that said, “Worry is a misuse of your imagination.” It was such a v8 slap in the forehead moment for me. God didn’t give us an imagination so that we could create scenarios that would cause our hearts to ache and fear to take root. Instead He gave it to us so that we could envision our life, see our situations, and even look at other people through hopeful eyes of faith; which is not always an easy choice to make when in the throes of foster care. Especially with that last one. Ya know, being able to see the biological parent as someone who deserves a chance, perhaps even a simple high-five of encouragement. Or a care package from their child letting them know they are not forgotten and loved.

Mikayla Sending Package to Her Mother

I’ll never forget the first time I saw her mother. Our foster daughter had been living with us for a few months before I shook her hand and looked into her eyes. Eyes that…well…pierced my soul. I will never forget the emptiness I saw in her that day. She was hurting. Her life was in a hopeless state. I could see her heart was broken. Actually, shattered. And her mind seemed to be controlled by the pains of her past that I just couldn’t understand because I had never faced them.

I remember after the awkward greeting our foster daughter taking her five tiny fingers that were wrapped in mine and letting them fall to her side as she then went to grab her Momma’s so that they may sit on a bench and color like old times. I surprisingly wasn’t jealous. I didn’t even sense the need to try to compete. And despite thinking I would, I also didn’t have feelings of anger or thoughts that she didn’t deserve her. But I must admit, before I saw her for the first time that day, I did. Because in my eyes, she was the sinner and I was the saint. She was the one undeserving to be her mother.

Me and Mikayla Being Silly

But on that day, while walking up the steps to meet her, I asked the Lord to help me see her the way He saw her. I knew that if I was to get through this process without all the ugly emotions that often accompanies situations like this then I didn’t want to see her the way the investigators painted her. I didn’t want to look at her the way her past and present spoke of her. I didn’t want to see her as the sinner I had written her off to be. And I didn’t want to condemn her for the poor choices she had made. Or label her as a bad mom, sister, daughter, or friend. I wanted to see her the way He saw her.

I wanted to see her through the eyes of grace. 

Because friends, who am I to judge?  Her life could have easily been mine. It could have been me seeking the love my soul craved from men who didn’t care about my worth. It could have been me chasing friends who were chasing the world and the emptiness that worldly pleasures so often bring.  It could have been me drowning in a sea of depression with no one to throw out a life preserver. It could have been me. And you might not want to admit it, but it could have also been you. I believe that we are all one bad decision away from losing our family’s, our homes, our money, our jobs, or our friendships. Just think about it.

When it comes to foster parenting and even life in general, you have to use your imagination for good. You have to believe for the best. Not always expecting the worst. Especially in people. It’s the only way to get through. Get through foster care. And ultimately get through life.

Many of you might be wondering what happened on day 1,274. Did she stay or did she go home? But because my word count is up, I’ll let a few pictures tell the story.

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Elisha Kearns is the author behind the nationally known faith-based blog, Waiting for Baby Bird. She and her husband have been married for 11 amazing years and yearn to have a household full of children; however due to PCOS they have been challenged in the fertility department. Despite the facts, together they continue to put their faith in the Lord for a miracle. Her mission in life is to share her story in order to inspire and breathe hope into the lives of other women facing similar circumstances. Whether it is through her writing, standing behind the podium at infertility conferences, or leading her own support group in her small town of Southern Illinois, she inspires other women to never give up on their dreams and to believe for the impossible. She is witty, down to earth and transparent, always making every woman feel as though she is speaking directly to their heart. Aside from sharing her passion and love for Jesus, she is also a stay-at-home mom to their 7-year-old daughter who was newly adopted through foster care. For more of her story or to find hope and encouragement, visit her blog at waitingforbabybird.com, or connect with her and thousands of others @waitingforbabybird on Facebook or Instagram.


PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

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PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, have a micro preemie,  lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgery, donate and adopt an embryo, and be on a reality show. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

 

july faves.

How, just HOW, is it almost August?! GASP! Time is flying my friends!

We are having such a fun summer. Logan is walking/running most of the time and Kirsten is taking huge strides here and there before resorting back to crawling. I say we are about a week away from full-blown walking for her! Yay! 

Both kids love the outdoors. Water tables, picnics, playing in their Little Coupes … they are such happy babies. Josh has been able to get some golf in this summer, unlike last, and we are finding a good rhythm with our family. They are growing SO fast! 15 months next week … *Faints*.

I am heading to Louisiana next week for the Hope Narrative conference, where I was asked to be the keynote speaker. If you think of it on Saturday August 11th, I would love a quick prayer, for everything to go well and that His words are what leaves my mouth! I am so excited to connect with some friends face-to-face for the first time instead of just phone or text! 

I just held a baby shower for my sister Courtney this past weekend which was SO fun! Her little ALL STAR and my nephew will be here before we know it! So exciting!!

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We also had the joy to celebrate the fact that IVF turned 40 last week! It’s amazing how far science has come and we are so incredibly thankful for how God has used this resource to help families in need, particularly ours! We occasionally get asked how as believers, we reconcile reproductive resources. For us the answer is simple: after all we’ve been through, all the highs and lows, failures and miscarriages, it’s abundantly clear that while IVF is an amazing resource, it’s only truly God who breaths and sustains life. The decision is personal and requires prayer and thought, but for us, it’s where we were pointed. So, similarly to how chemo may help heal a cancer patient, IVF helped heal my body and start our family, and for that, we praise the One who opened the path! Happy 40th birthday to the first IVF baby and thank you CCRM Minneapolis for your part in making our dreams come true! CCRM also held a reunion picnic earlier this month with all of the families who have had success there thus far … it was amazing to see and fun to meet other CCRM mommas!

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Who can compete with a family photo when there are BALLOONS!

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Finally getting to meet my friend Megan in real life with her own miracle!

Now, without further ado, here’s some of our favorite things this month!

1) Popsocket: This little contraption adheres to the back of your phone case and provides a little collapsible grip and stand for you to use while you are holding your phone. I have loved that I can pop it up and use my phone with one hand, especially for taking pictures, without feeling like it will slip out. One of those things I spent a few bucks on and now can’t imagine not having it!

2) Functional Diaper Bag Backpack: I’ve been on the hunt lately to find a good backpack I can use to throw the kids stuff in there and not have to worry about it getting dirty. While I did snag a Fawn Design too (LOVE), I ordered this one from Prime Day and LOVE how lightweight it is and am not afraid to get it spilled on or dirty. It even has clips for my stroller which is awesome. For $20-some bucks, its a great everyday backpack that I can drop off with my kids at sunday school or drag with us to the zoo. 

3) “You Say” by Lauren Daigle: Lauren’s music has had such a strong place in my heart for so long. I listened to her album driving to every single doctor appointment for nearly a year and her album was playing overhead during my c-section. She just came out with a new song You Say and it’s powerful.     

4) Trader Joe’s Blue Cheese Olives: Enough said. These jarred olives are amazing and everyone who tastes them says the same. Grab a jar next time you are there and enjoy with a yummy charcuterie tray. Mmmmm! 

5) Beauty Counter Lipstick: My friend Ashley was over for a playdate a few weeks ago and got me to try this lipstick she raved about … and I never wear lipstick … and low and behold, I really liked it! This Beauty Counter color was a perfect shade (twig) and she had me top it with a Bare Shimmer lipgloss and I love how natural it looks while still looking nice! I placed an order that night and now wear it daily! My favorite part is that neither are sticky and they stay on a longgggg time which is perfect because this momma never remembers to reapply! :) 

And now some of the kiddos favorites! 

1) Harry Potter Clothing line at Target: Sound the alarms! Target just launched an exclusive Harry Potter line for toddlers, kids, and adults and it’s everything an HP fan could hope for and more. The sizes were going fast when I was there but I managed to snag Kirsten a tee-shirt and Logan a sweat-shirt … and if you are an HP fan, you gotta grab something while it’s still around! 

2) Weighted straw cupsWe love these Munchkin weighted straw cups! These cups allow them to use a straw while being able to hold the cup at any angle. The straws and covers come apart easily for easy cleaning (and replacement straws are sold too). We have been big fans of these! 

3) Freeze dried mangos: You can get these at most grocery stores, we grab them at Target, and my kid flip when they see the bag come out! It’s awesome for them to munch and feels good on those teething gums. 

Also … the babies had their first Oreo at Costco (thanks sample day!). Logan loved his … and clearly ate his too fast and then had to watch his sister flaunt and slowly finish hers. This picture will forever crack me up!

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And finally, here’s a family photo from this weekend! We are just so utterly grateful for this blessing of our family … God is good!

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XO!

Chelsea


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what it’s like: to be on a reality show.

Oh Candace, what can I say about Candace? The truth is, I didn’t know Candace until I saw her MTV special and was SO touched by her story that I reached out. When she graciously replied, I totally felt like I had chatted with a celebrity. However, from there, we have formed a special friendship and I appreciate Candace and Chris’s heart for the infertility community and  advocacy SO much. She is hilarious, which you will see below, refreshing and totally relate-able. In fact, if you follow along their story on their blog, you’ll see there’s exciting potential for their future family in the works! Candace, thanks so much for sharing with us what it’s like to be on a reality show! I adore you so!

Enjoy friends!


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What it is like to be on a Reality Show?

Wait. I thought our life was already a reality show? Minus the spray tans, crazy roommates, and random hot tub debauchery.

Reality check.

For us, infertility was a huge punch in the lady bits and dangly parts. Our fertility woes snuck in like a thief and robbed us of our financial stability, pride, and the joy for others more fortunate. It rocked every relationship facet of our life and let’s get really real, our faith was a bit rocky at times too.  Like many of you reading these words, we never thought this would be our new normal. Yet here were, feeling alone and desperate.

We were silent.

I mean talking about the status of your cervical mucus over tacos with your in-laws is usually not the best conversation starters. As a result, we simply did not share our struggle with anyone and withdrew ourselves into a wine and tissue filled protective bubble. It was really lonely there and …I eventually ran out of wine.

Since that didn’t seem to help, something had to change. We threw our needles to the wind, and did the exact opposite of what we had been doing. Which was start a blog.  Holding nothing back and contributing both of our perspectives, we had no idea it would have the success that it did, nor did I think oversharing about the regular happenings of my vagina or Chris’s plastic cup capades would attract the attention of MTV.  Apparently MTV was into that.

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ish got real.

A MTV casting producer found our blog and reached out to us. The she later shared with us that it was the pictures of our rockin’ ugly Christmas sweaters that was made her say, “this is our kind of people.” They asked questions, we answered questions, signed dotted lines on release forms, and sent in requested videos.  We were literally about to open up the doors to our bedroom and invite in a whole team of people, their cameras, and the world to witness and document our struggle with something that was both acutely painful and intimate for a couple to experience. Sorry to disappoint, this wasn’t some B budget Skin-a-max movie, it was True Life, I’m Desperate to Have a Baby. Not the most flattering of titles, not entirely inaccurate either. I had someone ask us once, “how we could trust that MTV would truly show what it was like living with infertility without painting a negative picture on the struggle.” It was a risk for sure, but Chris and I were secure in who we are as people, and we were not concerned about how we personally would be portrayed. Also, the process of treatment and the peaks and valleys organically entails plenty of drama, heartache, and awkward laughs there would be no shortage of that.

With that, we let them into our life and our bedroom…

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Needles, camera, action…

The MTV team had impeccable timing too. I had just been given a one last shot, green light from both my RE and my OB-GYN oncologist. After 6 failed IUIs, 4 surgeries, and 5 additional failed IVF rounds, I had poked the sleeping bear. I was starting to develop the beginning stages of uterine cancer. This next round, would be my last before I would undergo a partial hysterectomy. So with that, we made friends with an amazing crew of producers and their team of people who were beyond talented. They were caring and incredibly empathetic. Most of all, they wanted to learn via lens about what life was like for someone who desperately wanted to build their family but could not. They spent almost a year filming us. It’s funny because people asked us a lot of questions, like. “did they live with you during this time?”

No. They had rotating teams would fly in when we had a major event or milestone take place. They would stay at a hotel for a few days and fly back home to their own lives and families. They were some of the hardest working and gracious people we had ever encountered.

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Ever have 3 dudes stalk your period?  I have. For those who are unfamiliar with IF lingo, CD1, is the holy day of starting your fertility cycle. CD1 means, go ahead and start injecting because a few weeks later you will be doing a transfer.

Ever heard of that saying that a “watched pot never boils?”

These poor producers missed birthdays, anniversaries and all kinds of ridiculous time away from their loved ones simply waiting for me to start my period. They were literally sitting around waiting for Aunt Flo arrive. Since we all know she is a huge bish, you can imagine that did not go well.  I was trying everything to make it happen, Google was my BFFie. I have never seen men more excited about a menstrual cycle, then when I ceremoniously announced that I was riding the cotton cowboy. I mean seriously, imagine having a drink with your buddy after spending and extensive amount of time with me, waiting-for-period-girl.

“Hey man, how was your film shoot out of town? It suckkkkkkkkked! I had to wait around for like week for this chick to get on the rag.”

This was my life.

We all became really close. They called the room where I kept my sharps container, medications, and other IVF related supplies “the hospital room.” Looking back, what was normal for us at the time, must have been overwhelming for them. I noticed them cringed behind the lens of camera watching me take shot after shot in the same bruised places because frankly my whole abdomen looked like someone had went Office Space on it.

I guess we were desperate to have a baby.

You begin to get comfortable and forget that there is someone filming you. This is where the reality aspect begins to take place. At some point, a few extra people lugging around cameras in an already crowded OR room for an embryo transfer became a normal day for us.

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I did ask them once, what was the hardest documentary they had ever filmed? Both producers who had come to visit at the time instantly replied, “this one.” They went on to explain that in many cases people put themselves in the situations that they are in. For us, and the other couple they filmed, we were “good people that really bad things had happened to.”  In a matter of 24 hours, they flew to Chicago to film the other couple going through their first round of IVF for her beta. It was joyously positive. Then they hopped back on a flight and flew to us where we all would find out together cameras a blazing, that my last and final IVF was negative.  Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions to undergo. They wiped away streaming tears from their face behind the camera documenting our world crumble and future uncertainty begin to magnify.

Even now, we are still are very much in touch with most of the MTV producers. We visit them when we are NYC and we chat periodically and catch up on each other’s life. The business of television is a hard one. The see a lot and they miss out on a lot in their own personal lives to capture what they see.  After our first show released and our families watched it, a family member asked why we didn’t share with them what we were really going through. Um, hello? We have a blog. It’s pretty detailed too. In reality, it was because they could see firsthand the pain and heartache we endured.

Our decision to share such a taboo topic was because of this very reason. We knew that by sharing our   story could possibly help others know that they were not alone. They could see and relate to the bruises, the envy, and the hormonal feels that come along with trying to have a child. That someone else, was also desperate to have a baby.

Chelsea asked me, what was it like to be on a reality show? Honestly, I guess it felt a little less un-lonely at the time. The pain was less sharp at times throughout our filming because there were others in the room who shared it and felt it with us.

You have a story to tell. You never know what may happen when you decide to give it life.

If you are into True Life and missed it…here is the original show.

For if you want to see what happened after the show,hereis Check-ups and Check-ins show.

If you find yourself masochistically curious and want to read more about our misadventures and broken bits, here’s ourblog.


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Candace Wohl and her husband Chris, co-author an award winning called, “Our Misconception” that began in 2012. The couple was also featured on MTV’s True Life, “I’m Desperate to Have a Baby,” a documentary on couples who struggle with infertility and MTV’s Check Ups and Check Ins.  They both are fierce advocates towards pushing for pro-family building Federal legislation and infertility awareness is their active volunteer roles as ambassadors for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. Apart from her advocacy work, Candace also leads a RESOLVE support group, helping couples who are struggling with infertility and miscarriage. She can be found anywhere from Cosmopolitan magazine to Huffington Post and currently writes for pregnantish magazine, Fertility Smarts, The Mighty, Adoption.net and many other online sites and magazines. Follow their antics on Facebookand Instagram @Ourmisconception or Twitter@rmisconception.


PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series

what it’s like: to donate and adopt an embryo.

I absolutely love this story. I remember first asking if anyone would be interested in a What Its Like series like this, and I heard quickly from Laura, who said she’d love to share what it’s like to adopt an embryo. Minutes later I heard from Summer, who said she’d love to share what it’s like to donate an embryo. I remember after just a few minutes of conversation, realizing that Summer’s family had donated and embryo to Laura’s family! This unique inside look at what it’s like to be in their own shoes is below and I an so grateful for their willingness to share with us today! Happy Reading friends!


Hi, I’m Laura. I’ve been married to my husband, Rob, for almost six years. We live in Ohio, have two dogs, and battled male factor infertility. After doing one round of IVF with a total of 4 embryos transferred and only one pregnancy (which resulted in a miscarriage), we decided to pursue embryo donation/adoption (EDA).

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When we officially decided to move forward with EDA I was SO excited. I researched all the different avenues to “adopt” embryos. (“Adoption” is not technically the correct term; it is donation, but “adoption” just flows better.) My husband and I decided to try our luck at matching with another family ourselves before we looked into more expensive agency/clinic type options. At the time I was writing a blog and pretty active on Instagram in the infertility community, so I posted to my followers that I was looking for donated embryos. I’m so glad I did!

In June of 2016 I began getting to know the woman who would change my life. She commented on my post to ask if I was looking for an open or closed relationship with the donors and honestly, the rest is history. We began to text all day, every day. We got to know each other and came to agree that it seemed like a perfect fit. In August of 2016, our donors signed the paperwork and my husband and I became the proud parents of six frozen babies living in a freezer across the country.

We began to prepare for a frozen embryo transfer. One of the requirements along the journey was that we had to have an appointment with a counselor who was well versed in these types of arrangements/adoptions/etc. Before our phone meeting with her, I was excited and ready to parent a baby whom I had adopted. I was excited to be able to experience pregnancy and I was confident in the role I would play in their development and the chance that I could still pass on some of my traits and genetics (search epigenetics!). This lady seriously popped my bubble and I became depressed and deflated and honestly, it took me a long time to get over that conversation. Despite the hurt and sadness that came with the conversation, I’m glad we had that phone call. I think the counselor really opened my eyes to some of the challenges we may face. My only regret is that we hadn’t done the appointment earlier.

We moved forward because even though I was more nervous about EDA, I knew it was still the right path for us. The whole IVF process up until the actual transfer of embryos was too much for me to emotionally handle again. The problem was that with time, memories fade, and I did start to regret not trying again. I constantly had to remind myself of the reasons I did not want to do IVF again.

In November of 2016 we flew to Phoenix to meet our donors and transfer two of our embryos. The transfer went well and I found out I was pregnant the day after Thanksgiving. The initial emotions/beginning of pregnancy were rough; I continued to worry if I had made the right decision and felt emotionally disconnected from my sweet baby. However, when we found out we were having a boy, everything started to change. Everything felt more real, he had a name, we started decorating his room and he became mine. He was the first boy – our donors have all girls, and that was so exciting to me!

In August of 2017 we welcomed our sweet baby boy into this world and I honestly sometimes forget that he isn’t genetically mine. He is perfect in every way and I can’t imagine life without him. I’m so thankful for infertility, for my losses, that IVF didn’t work for me, that I found my donor, and that my son is the embryo that stuck. He is better than anything I could have ever imagined and everything we went through to get him here was worth it. One of my favorite Bible verses during our journey to parenthood was Ephesians 3:20 which reads, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according his power that is at work within us.” I can confidently testify to this truth and His goodness.

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If you have questions about embryo adoption, feel free to contact me on my Instagram @the_infertilizers.


Hi, I’m Summer! I am the a mama of three young girls, an IVF warrior, and embryo donor…to Laura’s family!

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Embryo donation has blessed me in ways I could never put into words, but I’ll try. It has been beautiful. A true gift to everyone involved, and I hope that by sharing our story we can help others to begin theirs.

After a successful round of IVF, which resulted in 12 frozen embryos and our twin pregnancy, my family was complete. (We also have a 4 year old through IUI) About halfway through my pregnancy, a friend I’d followed for some time posted on Instagram about beginning the process of embryo adoption. I messaged her and we chatted about the relationship she’d want with the donor family, and we hit it off right away. It was decided that she would be my “baby mama” as we lovingly joke.

Further into my pregnancy, and past viability for my twins, we signed over rights to our embryos in hopes that their family would grow. When embryo transfer day came around, they traveled to our city and had their transfer. We met up and went to ice cream, got to know each other, and really cemented our friendship during that visit. Just a few days later, they found out that the transfer was a success and they were expecting a beautiful baby boy!

I’ll admit, I was afraid of how I’d feel when I saw a photo of him for the first time. Would I feel the way I felt when my girls were born? Would Laura withdraw from our friendship? But I truly mean it when I say this is a blessed match! I love them like family, and think they’re such great parents. I have no regrets.

If you’re nearing the end of growing your family and have frozen embryos, I urge you to at least read up on embryo donation and see if it might be a fit for you. There are many different types of relationship you can have between donors and recipients, ranging from anonymous all the way to open. For me, there was no more beautiful way to end our infertility journey than by helping another family still walking that path.

I am now documenting my journey to become a doula at @withopenheartsdoula…come join me! 

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Meet Summer and Laura!


PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

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PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, have a micro preemie,  lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, and have weight loss surgery. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

mom life: everything you need to know about exclusively pumping.

You’ve asked, I’m answering. Let’s talk exclusively pumping (EPing) today. Settle in, grab a cup of coffee, this one is a doozy on length.

Exclusively pumping: providing breast milk to an infant by using a breast pump only

You guys. Woof.

Pumping has been hands down the most challenging, tear-inducing, sacrificial thing I have ever done. I know that sounds SO dramatic in spite of our journey, but my year of EPing was hard. My inbox is routinely filled with questions regarding our journey and so, now, 2 months out from my last pumping, I *finally* feel mentally capable of sitting down to share our journey with you, and all the tips + tricks that worked for us for survival! I am not a medical professional, just someone sharing what worked and didn’t for me.

There isn’t nearly enough information out there for mommas who EP so please feel free to share this with anyone you think it may help. I felt a little lost without resources because I didn’t fit the breastfeeding by breast group which is why I felt it so important to spend the time to write this. This also may be incredibly helpful for women who are breastfeeding as there’s a lot of resources that help me with milk production, comfort, and weaning. 

I need to preface with these important points:

1) Pumping does not make me a better mom. Providing breast milk for my kids doesn’t make me any more awesome than any other mom who loves and provides for her kids in whatever form that is. The term “fed is best” may seem cliché, but you guys, whatever way you feed your baby that keeps them thriving is all that matters.

2) Let’s not talk numbers. One of the most discouraging things to me in the pumping journey is the comparison. Momma’s are proud and flash how many ounces they pumped, or “joke” about overproducing and all it leaves is a momma on the other side of the screen who is struggling feeling less than. I will not talk ounces in this post because it doesn’t matter. I had enough milk to feed my children and that fact alone makes me feel so blessed. Whatever you produce is amazing. Do not compare yourself to anyone else’s numbers.

3) What worked for me may not work for you. Every mom is different. Every baby is different. Every circumstance, breast, pump, lifestyle, body, and goal is different. This post is simply to share what we did, what worked (and didn’t), and encourage you that if you are EPing, you’re not alone.

Let’s start at the very beginning.

Kirsten and Logan were born at 35 weeks after my water broke. I had no knowledge of breastfeeding despite the information that was spouted at us at our birthing class. All I knew is I somehow had to make my less-than-tiny breasts into a pancake and prevent my children from being suffocated by my chest.

Before your child arrives

Pumping was FOREIGN to me. I cannot tell you how long I sat at my kitchen table with my girlfriends looking at the million pump parts and asking WHAT IS THIS. Before your baby is due, the best thing you can do is call your insurance company and find out what is covered. I found out I could have one of three pumps purchased for me, or I could take a $XXX credit to rent a hospital-grade pump. I called rental place they told me about and found out it was $XX for me to rent a hospital grade pump a month.

Because I had heard how wonderful hospital grade pumps are at bringing in your milk, I decided to use the credit and rent one. My insurance company would NOT let me rent a pump prior to the children being born and so I needed to rely heavily on the lactation consultant department at my hospital.

I chose the Medela Symphony and I could not recommend it more strongly. I tried a few other kinds at the hospital while waiting and nothing compared to this glorious yellow queen.

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Side note: even when looking at my friends pumps and examining all of their parts, I still had NO clue until I was 1:1 with my lactation consultant in post-partum care in the hospital and I asked the same question 400 times. Do not stress if this is foreign to you. You will figure it out.

For the hospital

I cannot stress enough how important it is to pack a hands free pumping bra, multiple nursing tank tops, and soothing gel pads in your hospital bag. I didn’t and had to have my sister and girlfriends make a run to Target for me. Once these things arrived, it was a game changer. Here are links to what I wished I had earlier:

Hands Free Pumping Bra: Listed here on Amazon or here at Target 

Soothing Gel Pads (Reusable): Listed here on Amazonor here at Target

Nursing Tank Top: Listed here on Amazon(I actually liked having a lift up nursing tank top because I could wear my hands free pumping bra underneath and felt more comfortable with a little tummy flow post partum vs the traditional spaghetti strap tank top)

Nursing Cardigan: I loved that I had a couple of cardigans in my hospital bag that could wrap around me where I could easily flap them up if a hospital staff members walked in. They are long enough in front so you have privacy and also SO cozy. Here’s one like the one I had (and used often!!!).

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Old Navyalso has an awesome affordable selection of nursing tops and there are always coupons. Here’s a few faves that work great alone or under cardigans.

At the hospital

Use your lactation consultant. Use them often. Get your partner involved. I cannot tell you how helpful it was to have Josh learning with me. Hands on. This is not the time to be shy about sharing your nipples with strangers. I was so exhausted that there were times I would have Josh and the consultant hand express me to attempt to bring my milk in while I slept sitting up. In the early days, my milk was MIA. Goodness it was nowhere to be seen. We ordered my pump after birth but it took a day or two to get there, so I was left to hand express and use a borrowed hospital pump (foreign to me, ask for help!). You guys, celebrate EVERY. SINGLE. VICTORY. I cannot tell you how helpful it was to have NOTHING to compare anything to. My sweet NICU team was amazing in being so thrilled for me when I would bring in a syringe that I worked on for 30 minutes that LITERALLY was less than a grain of rice. They would rub it on the babies lips and acted like I just produced the most milk they had ever seen a mother create. We were so thrilled. Josh would run in a teeny size of milk at 3 am and force whoever was working to rub K & L’s lips with it….sometimes there was only enough for one lip rub and we’d rotate who got it. THIS WAS MY MILK. Celebrate the victory. Use formula or donor milk if needed to supplement and be okay with it.

These are actual pictures from my early hospital days of pumping on day 4. I was SO proud.

Ask them if they have nipple cream or multi-use gel pads you can use while you are there so you don’t have to use your own … and stock up, wink wink.

Get used to hand expressing and pumping ALL THE TIME. We tried for a very short time to breastfeed, but they were so little and my chest was so large that I struggled and pumping was so much easier for me. There is NO SHAME in simply deciding breastfeeding by breast isn’t what you want to do. Whether it’s latch or something else, it’s okay. For me, pumping was easier, especially with twins so Dad could help out a lot more too.

It took my milk DAYS to come in. I had to supplement the whole time I was in the NICU (11 days) with donor milk. I texted every person I knew who breastfed when I first felt engorged because I was terrified of the pain and the hardness. They all suggested I just massage my chest and pump for 10-15 minutes to release some of the pressure. That wasn’t helping. Instead, I hooked myself up to my arrived hospital grade pump and fell asleep sitting up during a NICU shift change. I pumped for an hour. When I woke up, I felt SO much better and finally had some milk coming in. Everyone was shocked I pumped for so long … it worked for me, was totally worth it and wasn’t the last time in my pumping journey I pumped that long. Do what feels best for your chest. Seriously.

Also – we asked so many questions about the right size breastshields, aka the cone-looking things you attach to your chest. Turns out, the fit is SO important. My consultant was awesome and we literally just bought all of the sizes (tired brain, desperate) and I would try the sizes out. I started with a 24 on both, and by the end, ended with one side a 31 and the other side a 27. 3 months in, I needed a 31 on both. It’s okay to have different sizes for different breasts. Like moms and babies, no boob is the same. :)

At this point, I was pumping or hand expressing at least 20-25 minutes every 2 hours around the clock. It was exhausting and frustrating when I wasn’t producing, but I genuinely believe the act of sitting down, hooking myself up to the pump and just letting the suction pull and tug for 20 minutes, even with minimal coming out, was so helpful in eventually getting milk.

DRINK YOUR WATER. EAT YOUR FOOD. Never pump without a snack in front of you or a huge glass of water drank. This does make a huge difference no matter who you are.

Once you are home

First of all, this is hard. Know you are a rock star for attempting this. Yes, it is worth it! But if at any point, you find that you cannot handle it + also enjoy motherhood, please give yourself the freedom to say THIS ISN’T FOR ME! Your child(ren) above all need a happy mom, not one that is so stressed and exhausted she may burst. This isn’t a competition. This isn’t something you have to prove. This is about what works for YOU and your family.

That said, the best piece of advice someone gave me was don’t quit your worst day. Let logic and clarity help you make your decision to stop and not emotions. I was very thankful for that advice.

Now pump. It’s going to feel like you do it all the time. This is where the tears will come from, especially in the early days. I would pump at least 20 minutes (Set a timer) every 2.5 hours. (Don’t go too much over, although sometime it was closer to 25 minutes for me if I had a third letdown.) Newborn eat about 8-12 times in 24 hours so you want your pumping to mimic a feeding schedule. I pumped with every feeding. And when they started sleeping through the night, I still woke up to pump to keep up with their needs. Early on, I couldn’t manage multitasking so I would bottle feed babies with Josh and then pump. Once the months passed, I was able to multitask and pump while I fed. If you can’t do that, give yourself grace. Depending on your children, this may or may not be possible.

My tips for survival

  • Take a good post-natal multi vitamin and if possible, use one that helps with milk production. A lot of times women stop taking their prenatal vitamins because they are no longer pregnant, but your child still needs vitamins through the breastmilk. Also, you could go through a vitamin drop deficiency by ending them too quickly. (I forgot in the hospital for 2 weeks and had horrible cracking lips.) I liked these two kinds and noticed improvement on my supply with them.Post-Natal Vitamin here with milk supplements and here is simply a milk support supplement that’s awesome if you have another multi-vitamin you take. (Suggested by a lactation consultant)

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  • Have many different pumping bras. You will likely leak and nothing is worse than having to wear a damp bra or a stinky one. While I love the Hands Free bra above, I also loved this sports bra for sleeping in and doing life around the house in. It does NOT provide awesome support for heavy chested women, but it is very comfortable and incredibly practical. I owned 5 of them and all of them now look like they went to war with me. The zip on hands free bra I had 2 of and it was great for when I needed to leave, wear a real bra and could quickly swap up my bra without an over-the-head bra change.
  • Have a cup you love for water. I love these three and would rotate while they were dirty. My RTIC 30 oz tumbler, my 32 oz Hydoflask, and my hospital mug they sent me home with. :)

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  • In the early days, be okay to order a snack box to have by your pump. In the later months you may (or may not) be able to think ahead and have better snacks close by but something is better than nothing. My friend sent something like this when I got home and it was AMAZING when I couldn’t think. (ps – these are also great to order and leave out in your hospital room for the nursing staff …. they LOVED it.) 91MVeql4lwL._SX522SX522_SY513_CR,0,0,522,513_PIbundle-45,TopRight,0,0_SX522_SY513_CR,0,0,522,513_SH20_.jpg
  • Have something you love by your pump. If you love to read, stock up on a great book. If you like to scroll, make sure your phone is charged. Binge watch a show or close your eyes. Just make sure there’s something you like to do for the 20 minutes because it’s a lot and often. This is the time to splurge on Hulu or Netflix. The thoughts of Blueberry Belvita bars and a new chapter got me out of my warm bed more times than I can count.
  • Have enough pump parts for an entire day. Yes, that’s right. The last thing you want to worry about is getting up at 3 am to pump and nothing being clean. We have 8 sets of pump parts which was helpful because we ran our sterilizer often enough where I was never in need. At least have enough to make it through an entire night without needing to wash a thing. Seriously, invest. It’s worth it. (Pump parts meaning breast shields, and connectors, valves, and membranes. Bulk packs are here great deal!)
  • Have a good resource to “ask” questions. I loved Kelly Mom. It saved me on numerous occasions.
  • Pump 5 minutes past your letdown. Typically I would get a letdown right before I was about to stop, like 4 minutes into my last letdown … it was a good reminder that my body will keep producing if I keep trying! Even if you don’t get another letdown, it tells your body you’re trying to produce more milk.
  • They say your milk will start to stabilize around 3 months. For me, I found that was closer to 4-5 and I don’t know why that was. So don’t get discouraged if things don’t see to be what you expected right away.
  • Don’t stress and remember how important it is to sleep! When my milk finally stabilized, I cut down to 6 pumps a day – more during the day and then one middle of the night wake up. Yes I leaked like crazy overnight (reusable nursing pads for the win!) but my body began to adjust with time.
  • For overnight pumps, make sure you are wearing something that is easy to pump in. There is nothing worse then being tired, cozy, and then having to swap out your pajamas for something pumping friendly. I typically slept in a nightgown (hot flashes!) and my sports pumping bra. Here’s a couple of my favorites:

Gilligan & O’Malley Nursing nightgown

Gilligan & O’Malley Henley nursing nightgown

Gilligan & O’Malley Nursing Tunic 

Gap Maternity/Nursing Nightgown (I still sleep in this – its SO soft!)

Gap Henley Sleep Dress

Gap Maternity Soft Sleep Pantsexcellent for postpartum

Speaking of leaking, if you are looking for disposable pads, these ultimate ones were great for me and I suggest keeping them EVERYWHERE YOU MIGHT BE. Car, diaper bag, your partners car, your purse… it’s amazing how you find you need one in weird places.

I can’t recommend these Bamboobies reusable pads more. They are so soft, wash great, and really hold the milk in. The don’t rub your nipples in a painful way (Again, soft!). I have some sets of the regular one – but they are heart shaped and I found I could see the shape through my bra a little more than the overnight round ones.

This company Bamboobies also sells these amazing nursing pillows that you can warm or cool and they are SO soft and comfortable when your breasts are clogged, sore, or just need a little TLC after being tugged at all day. I find myself sending these to new moms all the time and everyone is incredibly grateful.

Things I never used and returned: a manual pump.

Things to make sure you bring with you if you pump on the go:

  • covers for the bottles …. I forgot those a number of times. Throw a few extras in your purse just in case.
  • sanitizing wipes or sterilizing bags, depending on how long you’ll be gone for.
  • a cardigan just in case what you’re wearing doesn’t provide a ton of coverage. (I found the breastfeeding covers to be really annoying when pumping because either they are covering only the front half, or they are wrapped around you completely like a tube and it can get tricky and tight.
  • a little cooler to keep your pumped milk.

Watch out for:

  1. Caffeine – this hugely affected my supply and it felt cruel that I had to monitor my consumption to feed the same children who made me so exhausted haha.
  2. Medications – especially allergy meds and decongestants. These items dry your mucus in your nose and throat right? Well, they have a really high likelihood of drying your milk too. I sniffled my way through the summer of 2017 and cursed hay fever regularly.
  3. Too little sleep – I know it seems insane to tell you to get up and pump throughout the night and tell you how important sleep is. At the end of the day, make sure you are getting sleep and if it means you only pump once at night, or nap all day, do what you need to do to take care of you. Your milk will thank you.

When its time to wean:

This was stressful for me. I had to break through a LOT of mental-games of seeing less milk being produced because I was cutting my time and pumps. What I first did was start to space out my pumps a little more. 6 times fell into 5 times. Then 4. Then I was sleeping through the night around 9 months (glorious!). Then 3. You can either space out pumps and see how your breasts are feeling or simply start to drop down the amount of time you are pumping. I was able to manage dropping pumps down to 3 without a significant issue other than leaking. That said, it took me 2 months to go from 6 pumps to 3.

In March I was able to drop to 2 times a day. I would get up at 6:30 before the kids got up and then would pump around 10 before we went to bed. The first few nights/week? Was very uncomfortable but that’s where my heating pads came in and hand expressing if I felt too full.

Dropping from 2 pumps to 1 to 0 took me from March to May. It was VERY challenging. I had to drop 1-2 minutes of pumping per session and do that for 4 days straight. Then I would drop another minute and give it a few days. Then another. Some day I felt so full I caved and pumped a full 20 minutes just to feel empty.

Eventfully though, with a lot of determination and a battle again the head game of “only” pumping 8 minutes, I was able to make progress. And then I pumped one more and at night, I didn’t feel as full. And I went to sleep, and then woke up and had to pump. But then a few days later, when I woke up, I still didn’t feel full. A few days later I did and had to pump a short time to relieve the pressure, but all in all, it stopped almost without warning.

During the weaning process, I found increasing my caffeine and decreasing my water helped my supply dry up a bit. I stopped my vitamins. I took a Sudafed when I got a cold. It did help. Also using peppermint oil will reduce your milk and I would roll a drop of little young living oil on my chest.

Warm showers also help during this time and will release a small let down in the relaxing heat but not enough to set you back, just bring you comfort.

And then it’s done.

As life absorbing as pumping was, I think my brain sort of blocks the fact that I spent that last year tied to a pump for nearly 4-5 hours a day. I am so thankful it’s done. It taught me so much about myself, selflessness and my strength. I learned to multitask and pump in the car. I sacrificed outings and get-togethers because it wouldn’t work with my schedule. It was hard, but worth it. The babies have about a month or two of milk left in the freezer and I feel sad knowing this journey will be coming to a full end soon. That said, it was a gift and I am thankful my body allowed me to do it. There are many who try EVERYTHING and it still don’t work, and that’s okay. You are still awesome.

And I can’t thank my husband, mom, sister, and mother-in-law (grandpas too!) enough for all of the times they sat with the babies so I could pump in quiet, free of multitasking attempts.

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What questions do you have? Leave them in the comments and I will address them so everyone can engage!


Everything I have shared above I have purchased personally and learned by personal experience after trying a variety of options. The linked items above are affiliate links that do not impact my opinions whatsoever … Using my links are just a really simple way to support our family of four at no cost to you! Thanks in advance! 


I am not a medical profession, doula, lactation consultant or anything other than a momma who is sharing what worked for her. Please consult a professional with any specific questions regarding your personal situation. 

what it’s like: to have weight loss surgery.

I first met Mollie when Kirsten and Logan were 24 hours old. I slowly trekked my way into the NICU, gingerly moving after my c-section, and was met with one of the kindest NICU nurses ever having been assigned to my babies. She helped us bathe our children for the first time, taught us to change + dress their tiny 4 pound bodies + cheered us on as we learned to be parents. Mollie embodies kindness and love, and as I spent hours rocking in the chairs next to my children, I got to know more about her and her story over the next 11 days. We found each other on Facebook months later and since our meeting, Mollie has had weight loss surgery and I am completely and utterly inspired by not only her strength, but her vulnerability and transparency to share the tender story of weight struggles. I am absolutely elated that she is sharing her journey with us today and I know you will walk away feeling her bravery and strength too.

Mollie, thank you for sharing!


I’ll never forget the week of my Mom’s funeral in June of 2016. That whole week was life changing in many ways, but one night in particular stands out vividly. I was standing in a dressing room in Nordstrom’s. I was in the “Encore” section, the only section that had anything that might fit me in the whole store, actually one of the only places at the whole Mall of America that had sizes that I could try and squeeze into. I was trying to find something that I could wear to my Mom’s funeral that I felt comfortable in. I was going to see people who I haven’t ever met, or see people I hadn’t seen in years. I didn’t want to embarrass my family, and wanted to represent my Mom well. My Mom was always the picture of class, petite and beautiful. This was the last time, in my mind I could make her proud before we laid her to rest. I remember going thru the racks, and finding appropriate things….I couldn’t just pick out what I like, but I had to just find things that were the right size and would fit without making me look like a tent. There were very few options that were appropriate for a funeral. I tried on the clothing, nothing was fitting! I was starting to panic, my heart was racing, tears were flowing. I had to find something that night in the short 2 hour window that I was able to take away from all the other planning. I will never forget sitting on the floor of that dressing room, sobbing because only one pair of pants and one grey shirt fit in the whole department and was remotely appropriate. I hated it and it is nothing I ever would’ve “picked” out. It was just something that fit. I decided I was done that night! I was done just existing, just settling for what was.

Living as a morbidly obese person with a BMI of almost 60 meant I was in all reality, actively dying! I certainly wasn’t living! From the second I got up, till when I went back to bed every night, I was thinking about my weight. I was thinking about food, what I should or should not eat or not eat. What new diet I could try and start over tomorrow because yet again, I had binged on food the night before trying to swallow the days hurts, stresses and emotions. I was not really participating in my two young boys lives. I was existing. I never wanted to go do anything for my kids, or with coworkers because of my weight. I had gotten to the point of only having a few articles of clothing that actually fit, and I thought looked okay. It was getting to the point physically, that it was hard to move, I was winded from the simple tasks of walking into work, going upstairs, or just trying to keep up household chores. I would go into a restaurant or my kids school functions and be worried if I would fit in one of the chair options, or booths. It was MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY and EMOTIONALLY exhausting. I was actively dying. I had tried soooo many diet plans, keto, high carb, low carb, weight watchers, biggest loser, slimgenics, the list is really endless. I would lose some, and then gain back that and more every time!

I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. I had to do something, or I was going to be dead. A co-worker of mine started losing a lot of weight. She was pretty quiet about what she was doing, so one day I got the courage to ask her. She had the “VSG” or Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy” done. A newer option in weight reduction surgeries. I had heard of weight loss surgery before, but didn’t know much about all the options. I decided to go to an informational meeting in December of 2016. It was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do. I remember sitting in this room with my husband and about 100 other people. I remember sitting there thinking, how did I get here, and I’m not as big as all of them. I first had to admit to myself that yes, at 317 pounds on my 5’1 inch frame I was morbidly obese and I had to do whatever it took to save my life! I spent almost the next 9 months going thru the “steps” they make you go thru. Nutritional meetings with a dietitian, a psychologist, a bariatric doctor and finally a surgeon, I went thru these steps because I “had” to, to qualify to have the surgery. I was just really going thru the motions because I had too! All these things were put in place for a reason I found out, they were preparing you for the tool you would gain thru surgery. This tool I found out, is just that, a tool. A very helpful one, but you have to use it right and follow all the rules if you want long standing success. You have to CHANGE your whole lifestyle!

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I won’t lie….it has not been easy and I was very worried about all the things I wouldn’t be able to do anymore after surgery. No drinking with meals or 30 minutes to one hour before or after meals, no straws, no carbonation, no soda, no alcohol. The first 6 months post surgery you have a very strict diet from clear liquids back to high protein, meals. They give you very strict guidelines and stages that you have to follow, to prevent any complications and have the best long term success. In reality it is a new way of living and eating for the rest of your life. You eventually will be able to eat ¾-1 cup of food three times a day, with very limited snacking if at all. It is doable!!

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This surgery has not only SAVED my life, but has Given me a life I never thought was possible! For the first time in my life I’m putting myself first. My life looks very different, and has changed in many ways. It has been difficult at times, my relationships have changed, and some no longer exist. The GAINS far outweigh any losses!! This surgery was a huge decision, a very scary decision. As an RN, learning that they would be taking out 80% of my stomach was especially difficult. It is what I had to do, for me, to survive! It was like having a cancerous tumor removed, and now I have to live a different lifestyle to keep the “tumor” from coming back. A lifestyle I have come to love. I LOVE being able to walk anywhere for miles at a time without being winded. I love being active with my family. I love going on walks, and starting to run. I plan on running a 5K for my 1 year “Sleeve” anniversary in October.

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I love summer, and being out in the hot weather. I love knowing what I’m going to eat everyday and planning ahead. I love being attuned to my body and listening to the signs it gives me and I know I have had enough. I eat now for nutrition, not to suffocate my emotions.

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I love being able to express who I’m with my clothing choices. Not just wearing black and what fits! Its so fun to look ahead to different things and be excited about what is coming up, not dreading it because you will feel uncomfortable, or you just want to hide in the corner and hope no one sees you! I love sharing my story so I can inspire that one person like me, that feels like it is too overwhelming and there is no way out.

Almost 9 months post surgery, I have lost 137 lbs, my BP is normal and I no longer take any medications for it. My liver enzymes are normal, I had fatty liver disease. I have lost 45 inches, my cholesterol is now excellent, I’m no longer pre diabetic, and I’m getting closer to a normal BMI every day.

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The non-scale victories are too numerous to list, but they make everyday worth living!! I love LIVING life, not just existing. Sometimes we have to take drastic measures to live our best life!

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The biggest thing I have learned in this journey, is to trust the process and find other things to fill your bucket and that give you JOY. My faith in God has never been stronger and I find myself going to him and his words in those moments when I used to turn food to fill the voids. I know this is a lifelong journey, but with this tool I feel like I finally have a chance to be successful with a full lifestyle change. I no longer feel like someone trapped inside looking out, and wishing.


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Mollie is a Registered Nurse in the NICU at St. Johns and Ridges hospital. She’s been married to Jimmie for 14 years, and mom to Liam (12) and Shane (7). At almost 45 years old, she feels like she’s starting a new beginning and finally finding out who Mollie really is. She loves being active, being out in her garden, walking and exploring the lakes, spending time with her family and fur kids, Joey and Murphy. 


PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

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PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, have a micro preemie,  lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom andbe a breastfeeding mother. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what it’s like: to be a breastfeeding mother.

There’s so much to say about my friend Marilyn, and none of which will be strong enough to express how much I adore her! Marilyn and I have been buddies for ages and it’s hard to believe we’ve never actually met! She’s an infertility sister and now, momma to the sweetest little thing. Mar is real, authentic, and as gorgeous as a sunset. Love her to pieces and so thankful she’s sharing with us today What It’s Like to be a breastfeeding mother! Enjoy!


Hi Friends, my name is Marilyn, and I am so honored to be featured today on my dear friend Chelsea’s blog.

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First, I want to thank you for sitting in this quiet space with me. I am about to be raw and I am so deeply grateful you are here to listen. Not many women talk about breastfeeding and what it is like, especially at the beginning.

It was a given. This was going to be my thing. After 5 ½ years of battling infertility, breastfeeding was the one thing I was going to control.

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I envisioned myself with long cascading black wavy mermaid hair grazing my plump pale bosoms, while holding my little rosy-cheeked cherub as she suckled my breast. In my mind, I had painted this glorious scene. Like a classical masterpiece, an interpretive dance between my little baby and I, and it was angelic.

This, my friends, was not the case. At. All. Not in the beginning anyway.

Mila was born via emergency c-section. I was dilated at a 10, she was making her way down the birth canal and turned her little head into face position. Meaning her head was tilted back and her coming out vaginally was neither safe nor possible. I was one thousand percent okay with that. I am happy she was born the way she did. I wouldn’t have changed it, and actually I had a really positive birth experience. God is so good, all glory and honor to him.

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When I was transferred to my hospital room, the nurses handed Mila (who was wrapped like a baby burrito) to me, along with a chart to keep track of how many times she breastfed and for how long. You might as well have given me a book in Chinese to read because I did not know what I was doing, nor was I remotely prepared. The hospital room had a TV above the foot of my bed playing a “How-To” breastfeed video on loop. All I remember is the narrator saying, “Hold your breast like a sandwich”. I followed each step, left hand sandwich, right arm hold baby, guide baby’s mouth to nipple, baby latches, baby suckles, and then….nothing came out. NOTHING CAME OUT. My glorious vision did not manifest, and here I was again being sucked into a dark place where my body betrayed the crap out of me again. But I am a fighter, battling infertility made me a warrior and now that my miracle girl was here, and she was in my arms, there was nothing that would get in my way from being able to provide the best nutrition possible for my baby. I could do this. This was for her.

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The first 24 hours after Mila’s birth consisted of nurses squeezing my nipples trying to get something, anything more than a grain of colostrum for Mila. It was rough. Nipples were raw, bloody, and I did not like breastfeeding. It hurt and no milk was coming out.  After we were discharged (a few days later), my husband desperately searched for, and hired a lactation consultant. She came to our home. She saved me. I was in hysterics my first week as a new mother. First, hormones and post-partum, second, Mila had lost almost a pound her first week and we were desperate. We supplemented with formula, but I wasn’t going to give up on breastfeeding. Julie, my lactation consultant, did a thorough check on Mila’s latch, tongue, positioning, and then put me on a strict pumping regimen to get my milk to come in. I honestly felt like I was about to enter the Olympics for pumping vying for the gold medal. Julie looked me in the eye and asked, “Are you ready to do this, this is going to be hard, but I guarantee your milk will come in by tomorrow if you do this”. I tearfully responded, “Yes”. Julie had me pumping every 2 hours 24/7. It was hard, I’m not going to lie, but she was right. My milk came pouring in by the next day.

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After getting the hang of it, (a few weeks later), breastfeeding became one of the most beautiful and heavenly experiences I have ever had. I became that vision I had during pregnancy. My exposed plump bosoms, my long black hair cascading around my shoulders, as if it were my shield while I held my rosy-cheeked baby in my arms. Gazing into her eyes while she nursed were my favorite moments, a gift from God. Thank you Lord!

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I was a proud breastfeeding mama. I quickly realized how people were still shocked to see a woman at a park or in public breastfeeding and how we need to do more as a woman-hood, tribe, to normalize it and support each other without judgment. I am not a let-it-hang-out kind of woman, I wish I was, but I had no choice. Mila was not the kind of baby that liked being under a nursing cover, ever.  She wouldn’t nurse, she would kick, pull, and I had to be bold and nurse my baby in the open, which made her happy. I am glad she pushed me out of my comfort zone. It allowed me to engage in many conversations about breastfeeding and not feel ashamed that I was feeding my baby in public. I was able to breastfed Mila, until she was 17 months old. I have nursed her just about everywhere. Especially when she would sign “milk”, with her little chubby hands, it didn’t matter where we were. I was ready to give her my breast, for comfort, for nutrition, for bonding. I still get teary-eyed. It was so beautiful and I loved breastfeeding.

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What I learned throughout this process are the dozens of support and resources available to us.  Also, many hospitals have a lactation consultant on-site, and some insurance companies cover the cost of a lactation consultant.

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Here are a few of my favorite resources:

  • Lllusa.org
  • Womenshealth.gov (search for breastfeeding)
  • Kellymom.com
  • Usbreastfeeding.org
  • Breastfeedingusa.org

Remember, no matter what you decide to do, whether breastfeeding or not, fed is best. Having a fed baby, whether through breastfeeding, donated breast milk, or formula, is most important.

All my love sisters.

xo Marilyn


IMG_4294Marilyn Gómez is a wife and mama of her miracle girl Mila. She enjoys traveling, real estate, interior design and kickboxing. She loves to cozy up with her favorite panda blanket, a glass of white wine and a good Lifetime movie. She is fearless, gritty, and brave, and is in love with Christ, her savior. She sees the glass half full in every circumstance and is a lover of people. She’s addicted to vulnerability, being real with others, and long talks about the Law of Attraction. You can connect with her on her Instagram page @lacasagomez and at her blog lacasagomez.com


PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

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PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, have a micro preemie,  lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth,  be a police officers wife, and be a working mom. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!