Heart Strings

familyTiny invisible strings run from my heart… and reach out all over the world… to eleven tiny humans, who for the longest time, I had only met through photos and videos on a message board. Let me share a story with you about my daughter’s half-siblings and how these babies stole my heart without ever meeting them in person.

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

~ Jane Howard

Our cryobank has a sibling registry. It is not required that you notify them of a pregnancy or birth, let alone add your child to the sibling registry, but let me tell you how happy I am that I did all three. When I notified the bank of her birth, they sent me a nice folder filled with printed materials about the donor: his profile information, detailed medical records (for him and his extended family), his personality report, and a CD recording of his audio interview.

When my daughter turned seven months old (summer, 2015), I started feeling a little bit more human. You see, my daughter never really got the hang of sleeping at night until around 13 months, so I was a zombie mom (aka, Mombie) during her first year, but her first six months were horribly difficult. It was at her seventh month mark that I added Via to the cryobank sibling registry.

“Family is not an important thing, it is everything.”

~ Michael J. Fox

Back then only five of her half siblings were registered. We immediately connected with those five families online and shared pictures and information. Over time, our family has since grown to 12 half-siblings (including my baby girl) among 10 families. We have one set of triplets. Every time a new sibling is registered or connects with us, my heart jumps for joy.

Fast forward to June 2017, my daughter and I were fortunate enough to meet five of her eleven half siblings. We were saddened that not everyone could make our first official family reunion, but we were super pumped to spend nearly four days with her siblings and their parents.

“I sustain myself with the love of family.”

~ Maya Angelou

Out of respect for our family, I’m intentionally not posting any pictures or sharing any names in this post. One of our families owns a t-shirt company, so they made all of the kiddos at the reunion matching neon tank tops (the only picture in this post). It was adorable to see all of these siblings in matching shirts!! #Thankful

We are an extended family comprised entirely of moms. Super moms. To call them phenomenal women doesn’t even begin to describe these moms; whether single moms by choice or married moms… at this time, there are no men in our family. If/when a heterosexual couple joins our family or one of us single mamas finds the man of our dreams, then we will welcome these guys with open arms. Because… we are family.

“Families are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”

~ Brad Henry

When we met in person, it was amazing to realize, “WOW! You are EXACTLY like the person you present online.” I mean, how many of us really know if we are seeing only the highlight reel on Facebook or Messenger, right? Well, I’m so thankful these women are true to themselves. What you see… is what you get… whether online or in person. I knew I loved them online… and praise God I loved them in person too. ha! ha!

During our reunion, if a child was near you, it didn’t matter if it was your child or a half-sibling, you helped that baby with whatever he/she needed. One of our mamas said, “Ha! Ha! It is like we are sister wives!” We all laughed, but seriously in that weekend no truer words could have been spoken.  These are OUR kids. This is OUR family.

“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.”

~ Eva Burrows

My daughter is a little love bug… she will randomly stop whatever she is doing and give hugs & kisses – doesn’t matter if she is mid-play or mid-dinner, if/when the mood strikes her, she gives love. “Mommy! I NEED hugs & kisses!!” It warmed my heart to watch her do the same to every mom at our reunion. I thank God that she physically shares the love she has in her heart for her family.

Yes, every individual family in our extended family unit is unique. We both welcome and embrace our differences. Yet we have a common bond that weaves all of our differences into a solid thread: We love our children immensely. Each sibling is an extension of our own child. When people ask me if I plan to get pregnant again, I laugh… “Why? Each of V’s siblings are a piece of her… all of the other moms are having the babies for me!” ha! ha!

“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.”

~ Virginia Satir

Now, we have more babies on the way!! Yes, with the same donor!! One family is expecting a child in early June and another baby is due in late July. Then we have another family who just completed an IVF transfer, so as long as this pregnancy “sticks” we will have another baby in early October. So this will bring our total sibling number up to 15 among 10 families. Each of these new babies are second children for each of the three families. #Blessed

We are finalizing our second annual extended family reunion for this summer. Praying more families can attend this year. It brings me such happiness when my daughter recognizes her sibling(s) by name and picture and she will often talk about them out of nowhere. I love the bond she has with them and I thank God that the other families allow this connection.

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

~ Desmond Tutu

When I was going through IUI fertility treatments, I was so sad with each failed attempt. Then, I tried this donor for the first time and I was pregnant with my daughter. I truly believe things happen for a reason; I know God had plans for us… He wanted Via and I to be a part of this particular extended family. #Grateful

As the oldest mom in our group (I’m a decade older than some moms), I have complete and utter peace knowing that when I’m no longer on this earth… my girl will have an army of moms across the globe to look out for her and she has big brothers, big sisters, little brothers, and baby sisters to walk beside her throughout her life too.

“What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.”

~ George Eliot

Our family is unique. Our family is blessed. I wouldn’t have it any other way. #Love

© Renae Rossman and Candy Coated Reality™

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