Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Fundraiser

   Where do I begin? It's been a week since we had the fundraiser and Ryan and I are still blown away!
   The week leading up to it was... busy, to put it mildly. We had a ton of last minute prizes being donated, tickets being sold, and things to do. The prize donations we received were quite unbelievable, both in quality and quantity. Our home is 'cozy' as Ryan puts it, so there wasn't any room to walk around or play with Winny, the dog. Every single day I looked around at everything and shed at least a few tears, some days more than others, both from gratitude as well as from a feeling of disbelief that people could be so generous just for us. We ended up with TWENTY regular prizes!!!! We had a lot of prizes for our wedding social, but not that many! There were FOUR grand prizes, and again, we didn't even have that many at our wedding social. Ryan made a bean bag toss game which was a huge hit. We ended up getting 3 sets of NHL tickets donated, so we had one for the bean bag toss, one set for a grand prize and ended up putting one into a 'mystery' box. I know the winner of that prize was even more excited when they opened it up and saw what it was. Honestly I wish I could write about all of the prizes we had because each one was really fabulous. But, it would take up my entire blog post.
   Our surrogate came into town for the fundraiser. She was here for a week and stayed with us. It was very nice getting to spend so much quality time with her. She was a great help in finalizing the prizes and wrapping them up, along with both my Mom and Ryan's Mom. We wouldn't have been able to get it all done without their help. We are so lucky, and so thankful.
   We set up a 'guest book' for anyone who came to the fundraiser to sign. Not everyone ended up signing it, but that's ok. Now we have something tangible that we can keep, and if we are successful in creating a baby, when they are big enough, we can give it to them to show them how many people helped 'create' them, how loved and wanted they were. Ahh, it makes me cry just thinking about it.
   The fertility clinic also lent us some information flip charts for people to peruse through. They detailed the steps involved in IVF, ICSI, and other processes people go through to make a baby when the natural way doesn't work out. I don't think people looked through them as much as we had hoped they would, but it felt great just knowing we had them there for people to learn from if they chose.
   The day before the fundraiser was one of the craziest, most exciting days ever. First thing in the morning our story came out in the local Free Press. It was well written and explained the situation clearly. It created such a buzz that we ended up getting a ton of online donations, people talking about, and sharing out story. By 5:15 we were in CBC News Radio giving an on-air interview about surrogacy and the fundraiser itself. We were so excited and shocked by the media attention that our nerves didn't have much time to kick in to full-blast. It was an incredible day.
   The fundraiser was a blast. We had a great turn-out with some people surprising us and others that we knew were coming. It was a total whirlwind since Ryan and I decided to 'work' the door and the bean bag toss. Ryan's Mom ended up helping me with the door because I was often caught chatting and hugging, and Ryan worked the bean bag toss the entire time. His legs are still sore from bending and picking up bean bags a billion times that night! My Mom was so busy catching up with friends and family that came, that she didn't even get to say hi to everyone that was there! I am still telling her about some people that were there that she didn't even see! The hugs, kind words and love that were shared that night will never be forgotten. I am still totally amazed by everyone that came and helped us with this dream, it will forever be one of my favourite nights in my whole life.
   I had expected myself to cry the night away, and not to be able to keep my emotions together, but I did! It wasn't until we were calling the prize winners that it began to hit me. I kept it together though while speaking and thanking everyone, but once the majority of people left, I bawled. It all seemed to hit me at once and I felt like I had been hit by a truck....I was exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. I was overwhelmed, and finally it felt like I could let it out. It took about 3 days and a ton of tears for me to 'release' all of my pent up emotions. I think I just kept it all in until it was over, then I felt like I could let it all out. It felt great being able to cry, and to sleep. I hadn't had a good sleep in weeks, but that night I slept solid and it was amazing.
   It turns out that people are still wanting to help us, which is beyond amazing, so we extended the online fundraising page until the end of October. We aren't posting the link anymore because we don't want to be asking for more than we have already gotten, but since people have still been asking us how to donate, even days after the fundraiser, we decided to extend it just a little.
   We are simply blown away by the love, support, kindness and generosity from our friends, our family, our community and even complete strangers. We feel very loved and know that what we are doing, and how we have done it all, has been the right thing. 
   A lot of people have been asking how it went, and though I know they wanted all of these details, I know most people are really wondering if we reached our goal. The answer is that we did not reach the full monetary goal, but we did reach the main goal, which was to help offset the total costs. Of course we didn't expect to make the full amount anyway, so it wasn't upsetting or surprising. We did great and were both so very happy and grateful with the end result. We are so excited to say that we did make enough to be able to move forward!!!!!
    We promise to keep everyone as posted as possible on our progress..... on that note though, we are going to keep quiet for the next little while as to where exactly we are in this journey. The next steps are for me to take hormone injections at home to create follicles, which hopefully have eggs in them to be retrieved. Then for Ryan's sperm and my eggs to be fertilized, frozen, then transferred into our surrogate and hope for a positive, viable pregnancy! Due to the fragile emotional nature of these steps we have decided not to let everyone in during each step, but to announce a pregnancy at the 12-week mark, like all other couples!
   Again, thank you, everyone, to the stars and back for all of the love and support, for the donations and encouragement throughout all of this. Please know that every single hug, word of love, donation, kind gesture has all gone into making this dream possible, and we fully understand that without each and every one of you, it would not be happening. Our hearts are SO full of love and gratitude. Hopefully the next time you hear from me it is because we will be expecting a little peanut of our own!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

One week left...

   In a week from today Ryan and I will be preparing for one of the biggest nights of our life. We will be finalizing any last minute changes or wrapping up last minute prizes. We will get ourselves all dressed up, and we will go down to see all of our hard work, our tears and dreams come together. We will come face to face with the friends, family and community members who are all out there rooting for us, praying for us, and supporting us in our dream to have a child. Our surrogate will be there, people we don't even know will be there. I know for a fact I am going to cry because I can barely keep it together as I write this, and I am only thinking about it. Wait until it's really happening!!
    It is so, so important to us to be successful with this fundraiser next weekend. The YouCaring online fundraising page will shut down and we hope we won't need to plan another social. If you are wanting to support us but have not already, you can buy a ticket from Ryan or I, or send a donation through the fundraising page. What we make next weekend will determine if we can proceed with this dream. All donations no matter how large or small help us and are appreciated to the utmost lengths.
   It's been such a wonderful and overwhelming experience getting to this point. But, I have to be completely honest, I don't think I have felt the gravity of it all until these past couple weeks. I have tried to write blog posts but have deleted them. I don't have the right words for what is going through my mind and my heart. I have spoken so much about gratitude, appreciation and love. But those words don't even cut it. There truly aren't words big enough or deep enough to fully capture this experience, or the moments when Ryan and I stop, look around our house at all of the donations we have received, or tell each other of something kind someone has said to us, and we just hug. There are so many moments that go without mention, not because they aren't worth mentioning, but because they are too big to describe, too raw to put into words, too wonderful to know how to share.
   5 years ago when I heard 'the news', I thought my life was basically over. I didn't know how I was going to go on, or how I would be able to live a happy, fulfilled life. I lost who I was and became so angry, so cynical, so sad. I never imagined I'd be here. I am now married to the man of my dreams, have the sweetest little home, and the most incredible support system. Everyone can get down on themselves and feel not good enough. Those thoughts crept into my mind more often than not for awhile, but now, after so much has happened, so much love has been created and shared, and so much support has been shown, those thoughts don't happen anymore. Because I decided to share our story with the support of Ryan and our surrogate, and your willingness to read it and share your thoughts of love and support, I realize so many things about myself, my life, and life in general that I had forgotten. I am so thankful to each and every one of you that has read this blog, that has sent supportive, kind messages, and to everyone who has decided to donate to us or share our story with others. And I am so thankful to Ryan and D. for being on board with my sharing this in such an open way. Although it has all been from my perspective, this is their life too. At any point, had either of them wished for me to not say something, I wouldn't have. But that never happened, they both allowed me to express myself the way I wanted and needed, and have loved and supported me through it all. I am so grateful.   
   My heart is full and I am so excited for next weekend. It really is very fitting that it ended up being on Thanksgiving weekend, because gratitude definitely seems to be the theme we've got going on here. We are so unbelievably thankful.