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Ever Thankful: A Tale of Three Thanksgivings
Two years and and two Thanksgivings ago, I stopped to pause and reflect on what I was thankful for that year. It was hard; I had just left my office job to start a freelancing career of my own just a week before Thanksgiving. We knew that my leaving a comfortable salaried position meant that starting fertility treatments might take even more time.
Last year at Thanksgiving, I was exactly 10 weeks pregnant: we were so incredibly lucky, blessed and fortunate that our first IVF cycle was a success. And in just two days, our 6 month old son will celebrate his very first Thanksgiving.
To say I am ever thankful this year is an understatement.
Two years ago, life felt a bit chaotic. I had left my job right before the holidays with a plan to start my own freelancing career. It was a big gamble for us as a family, one that has only really paid off in the last year. At the time, we were saving up little by little to slowly begin fertility treatments, as the only way I could get pregnant was to undergo IVF with a donor egg. With me no longer getting a steady paycheck, it threw our family building plans for a loop and it seemed, sitting around the Thanksgiving table in 2011, that we might have to wait even longer. It was hard to cultivate gratitude that year when, as exciting as it was to venture out onto my own for work, all I wanted was to start building our family.
How quickly things would change…
In March of last year, a dear friend of ours offered to be our egg donor. After much thinking and many conversations, Larry and I decided to take the plunge. We knew it would be a long road for all three of us: my husband, our egg donor, and me; we were so lucky and blessed to have the support of our families and friends and we underwent this process.
There were lots of medications, doctors’ visits, and tests for each of us. Our donor and I commiserated about the injections – and there were many! After the egg retrieval and embryo transfer in late September of last year, it was time to play the waiting game. Those 10 days waiting until my beta hCG test were probably the longest days of my life. Ten days after our transfer, I woke up bright and early to get my blood drawn at my doctor’s office… and then I pretty much stared at my phone for the next five hours.
When our fertility clinic called to share the good news that yes, we were in fact pregnant and our IVF cycle had worked, Larry and I jumped up and down with excitement! We practically did a victory lap around the living room. We called our parents first; our egg donor was the next call we made. There were lots of happy tears and mile-wide smiles and we all agreed to take this miracle pregnancy week by week.
At Thanksgiving last year, I was 10 weeks pregnant. I was nervous about all the turkey: one of my biggest early pregnancy aversions had been poultry, and Thanksgiving turkey is probably one of my favorite foods. I was at a conflicted crossroads thanks to some truly beastly morning sickness. But it didn’t matter whether I ate the turkey or not; I was just so humbled and grateful that I was pregnant after four very long, very painful years of infertility.
At that point, I had already had two ultrasounds: we had already gotten to see the amazing image of our son’s little heart beating on the ultrasound screen, like some tiny, beautiful flicker of hope and promise. And in between the sweet potatoes and green bean casserole, I sat at that Thanksgiving table knowing that I had so much to be grateful for that year, keeping that image of that beautiful little flickering heartbeat in my thoughts.
As I write this, Judah is napping (finally). Sometimes, I still sit here in wonder that he’s actually, finally here. He may have come a little bit earlier than we were prepared for, but I guess Judah couldn’t wait to meet us either! We’ve got a long road trip to Nana’s house for Thanksgiving this year ahead of us. We’ve spent the entire month of November introducing him to some of his first foods so that he can have his first real Thanksgiving feast.
When I’m asked at the Thanksgiving table what I’m thankful for this year, it’s hard to put into a simple reply… especially with everything we’ve been through over the span of just two years. Of course I’m thankful for my son, but it’s bigger than that.
I’m thankful for the endless patience, the unshakeable hope, and everything it took to bring him into our lives. I’m thankful that he’s finally here, that he’s healthy and happy. I’m thankful for his giggles, his fearless wonder of the world around him, his babbles. I’m even thankful for the spit up, the colic, and the crying. I’m thankful for the way Judah smiles at his Daddy when he comes home from work. I’m thankful for those precious quiet moments at night before I put Judah in his crib for the night, as he lays on me, gently snoring. I’m thankful for every single moment he’s been in our lives so far.
I’m thankful for the long and storied journey that was always meant to lead us to this destination, to this precise moment in our lives.
So what am I thankful for at this Thanksgiving?
Judah will always be my son. I will always be his mom. And for that – at Thanksgiving and always – I am ever thankful.