Building a Library

Over the years, I have shared a lot of personal stuff with you, my dear writer-readers. Pets, tattoos, moves to Brooklyn, moves from Brooklyn, moves back to Brooklyn, and finally from Brooklyn for good (oy!). I mean, I still have people ask me about Sushi, a beloved cat I lost in 2011. It’s really been an honor to show up at the keyboard and share a bit of myself, a bit of my ideas, and a lot of my heart with you every week or so.

Now it’s time for me to reveal a very exciting personal development. Don’t worry, I’m still writing here. (They can wrench this domain name from my shriveled hands in 50 years!) I’m still working with my stable of amazing freelance editorial clients, and I couldn’t be happier. But in 2016, my family is finally growing with the addition of a baby in March! The gender will be a surprise.

announcementThis news is incredible for my husband and I, because of the road we took to get here. Everyone has struggles, and this was, unfortunately, one of ours. I have wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. Growing up an immigrant only child in a single-parent household was very lonely, and I always imagined that I’d one day fill my home with children, the more the merrier! But then we wandered into what I can only call hell: infertility.

I have made many lifestyle changes over the years to put my health first. I’m pretty young. I’m motivated. Every single time we failed to conceive, it felt like an incredible failure of body and spirit. When infertility is suspected, the burden usually falls on the woman because a whole lot more can go “wrong” in our systems as far as reproduction is concerned. There’s basically one test for men, while women sometimes spend years investigating the equipment. Every month, I sunk into a despair that words can’t exactly describe. This went on for two and a half years. That may seem like a blip. But when a child is what you want most in the world, and deep in your heart is the fear that you may never get to have that irreplaceable human experience, time almost seems to move backward. And since all of our tests came back perfectly normal, we didn’t even have a good explanation, which was maddening.

After cycling through half a dozen doctors (“You’re young! Just keep trying! Are you sure you’re doing it right?”), tens of thousands of dollars of tests, kits, and procedures (insurance becomes real scarce as soon as they hear “infertility”), acupuncture, therapy, yoga, even chakra-alignment (I’m from San Francisco, guys, and I was desperate…), we finally washed like ragged castaways on the shores of a fertility clinic. There, they administered an easy $300 test that nobody else would do because failing it was so unlikely. And we finally had our answer: my husband has a fluke sperm issue, so rare it doesn’t have a name, and so significant that we literally have a 0.0% chance of conceiving naturally. What are the odds!

That was the best/worst appointment of my life. The best, because we finally had closure, and a game plan. Luckily, IVF and a related procedure (ICSI) are made for exactly this scenario. The worst, because don’t nobody tell me I have a 0.0% chance at anything! Unfortunately, this one was bigger than my stubbornness. And it turned out that we tried for those two and a half years completely in vain. This was a tough pill to swallow. On the bright side, we ended up doing IVF in June, had a brilliant response, and I got a positive pregnancy test on my birthday in July!

Now, as I near the third trimester, we feel so lucky. I mean, infertility was basically the worst thing I’ve ever been through, and I’m still grieving the fact that, whenever we want to have a child, we have to roll up to a clinic with our wallets open instead of doing it the old-fashioned way. In fact, because I’ve had such stunningly bad results, I no longer believe that babies happen after unprotected sex! 🙂 But there are those who have much more complex issues, who struggle for much longer. Our one IVF cycle (costing as much as a new car out of pocket), believe it or not, was pretty much the best case scenario in the advanced reproductive technology big leagues. (Most insurance counts infertility treatments as non-essential, sort of like a boob job, unless you have a great plan. But my husband is a small business owner and I’m a freelancer, so we pay handsomely for our minimal coverage.)

Now that I have that off my chest, I really waffled about writing this next part of the post. I’ve always seen my role in your lives as a guide and friend. It feels wrong to ask for anything in return because of the rich personal rewards that my work brings me every day. But I’m humbly reaching out to you now with a request:

Books are why we’re all here. And I would love to welcome our baby with a library of classic and contemporary children’s books that builds on what I’ve collected over my career. With IVF and my husband’s dream of opening a restaurant coming true this year, we simply can’t feather our literary nest. I want to flood this child’s life with love and beauty and letters. I want to greet them with good vibes (and good books) from the community I’ve created. This baby has been the dream of my heart for as long as I can remember, and now he or she is finally coming. If you have any new or pre-loved books, for any childhood stage, that you’re compelled to send along to us, it would mean the absolute world. I would personally be so grateful. Please write a note inside so that you can become a part of our story.

(I’ve removed the address here because it was for a temporary mailbox. If you are still interested in sending something, please email me at mary@kidlit.com. Thank you!)

If material things, well, aren’t your thing, I was recently reminded by a freelance editorial client of my passion for the work of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where I used to volunteer while living in San Francisco. I just started training as a volunteer for the Minnesota chapter. Already, this baby has inspired so much positive change and hope in our lives. In the same spirit, maybe he or she will inspire you as we head into the holiday season, to share some joy with a few extra hearts. You can find Make-A-Wish volunteer information and links to your local chapter here.

ETA: Because somebody asked, you can find our baby registry here.

Also, I feel obligated to add that, while many options for growing a family exist, I felt very strongly, being an immigrant with only three living blood relatives in this or any other country, that I wanted to try for biological children. It’s a deeply sacred, personal choice that every aspiring parent makes differently. For example, newborn adoption costs about as much as a round of IVF (or more) and there’s a lengthy approval process that could’ve added years to our journey.

19 Replies to “Building a Library”

  1. Mary Erickson says:

    Congratulations! That is an adorable announcement. As a long time blog reader, I am happy for you. No one can prepare you for how much your life is going to change, but it is so worth it. Surround that baby with books–it does make a difference! I’ll be sending a package your way.

  2. Amy Iannucci says:

    A huge congratulations to you both!! What wonderful news! I’m a big fan of your website and book, and I’d like to thank you for all the advice you share. I was so happy to see you back here writing posts again, and now I’m especially happy for you and your husband, and your exciting news of a growing family!

  3. STELLA MICHEL says:

    Congratulations to you and your husband! A friend of mine had both of her children by IVF and now they are in their early 20s and doing well.

    I guess I was lucky that way and I thank my stars for my two wonderful sons.

    I also wanted to say that I went to a baby shower where each person was asked to bring a favorite picture book, if possible. After the shower, Shannon had a nice little starter collection. So there’s another suggestion to help feather your baby’s library.

    Best to you, Mary.

  4. tannis curls says:

    Wonderful news, Mary…

    I have one daughter and four adopted children from a step daughter. It didn’t mean diddlysquat they didn’t have my DNA. My blessings are many…

    One question, though…Is there a list of books you already have? Or a list, so you don’t end up with fifty copies of The Hungry Caterpillar?

    Your lives are about to change in a most delicious way…

    I’d like to see a children’s book about the last few weeks waiting on your baby’s arrival, from your husband’s perspective. Why that strikes me as funny, I have no idea.

  5. Mary! Long time no talk. Thank you for sharing your journey with the world. I’ve been hesitant to explore the whole fertility clinic thing, but I’m inspired now. Congrats!! I’m so happy to see your dreams and goals coming true. 🙂

  6. Mary,
    Congratulations, and thank you for sharing. My husband and I also had struggles conceiving and bearing children. Now we have three beautiful children (two boys and a girl), and my “baby” is almost nine years old. (I can still hardly believe it). I will write a personal note to share more when I send Baby M’s book.

    I’m so excited for you, your husband, and Baby Macdonald. May this springtime be filled to overflowing with love, joy, and peace (and naps during the day while Baby M is sleeping 🙂 )

  7. Elizabeth Simpson says:

    Dear Mary,

    I’m so happy for the three of you! Thank you for sharing your story with us. You have given us so much, and we are your friends. It will be an honor to share some books with Baby M! 🙂

    Happy thoughts and good wishes to your growing family!

  8. Melissa Koosmann says:

    Mary, I want to wish you all the best. My husband and I had our first baby two years ago yesterday, and I am continually surprised and amazed by how much I love being a mother. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done–harder than writing books–but also the most worthwhile. I’m so glad you shared this with us, and I’ll be cheering you on as you go forward.

    Books coming your way soon!

  9. Hi,

    Is that photo of you and your husband?



  10. Congrats and blessings to you all! I LOVE the Lady and the Tramp pic 🙂 (Also, my mom’s family was Clan Macdonald so it’s like we are kin! lol)

  11. Mary Warth says:

    I wish your family the best. I’ve appreciated and enjoyed following your blog and I’m so happy to read about this wonderful news.

  12. Congratulations (and I don’t know how I missed this post)! As someone who has lived through infertility, miscarriage, international adoption, a failed adoption, and then a very happy ending, I am truly celebrating for you. Infertility carries a unique pain, doesn’t it? My arms would physically ache with emptiness. And don’t even get me started on the ads for 3D ultrasounds right after my third miscarriage…. Enjoy your belly, and the piles of board books I know you are stashing in the nursery, and your very own soon-to-be happy ending.

  13. Sarah Floyd says:

    Huge congrats! I can commiserate on the fertility trauma. It took us two years. Each month I felt certain, “This is it!” And each month’s anticipation ended in a crushing disappointment. I’m so happy to hear your good news! YAY! Our good news is now thirteen-years-old. He is my joy.

    Thanks so much for the awesome consultation for my w-i-p. It has been slow going, I’m a little shy of the halfway mark (20,000 words), but it’s progressing well. I’ll get in touch to discuss next steps when the ms is finished. By the way, my agent woes are behind me (my new agent is fantastic!)

    Enjoy the sweet newborn days! It’s going to be a wonderful time. And if you haven’t read The Baby Book by Dr. William and Martha Sears, I highly recommend it. Their approach is intuitive and caring, with lots of helpful info about nursing, co-sleeping or not, when to call the doctor, developmental milestones, etc.

    All best wishes!

  14. Wow, Mary, congratulations from Clan Gregor! 😉 We were never blessed with children, and that makes another’s joy all the more thrilling. This gave me goosebumps to read. Hooray for you. 🙂

  15. Dear Mary, I have just met you, virtually, and am excited to get going, but I thought at about this time you would be creating your best project ever! No project nor product however compares to my two best ones, my two sons. Congratualations! Now your child is 10 days old! Hope all is good. And thanks for sharing your story.
    Best, Leslie Wallant

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