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Archive for the ‘empty nest’ tag

My IVF Baby Left for College

By Tracey A. Minella

August 28th, 2016 at 7:28 am


credit: T Minella

And just like that, she was gone.

How is it that the six year infertility journey dragged so slowly and these 18 years flew by so fast?

Infertility never left me completely. It impacted my parenting experience in ways I couldn’t have imagined. In those first few weeks, I never left the couch. I literally held her all day long—asleep or awake—trying to process that she really was here at last.

Yes, I was THAT mom. Totally and non-apologetically over-protective. I was the last mom to let her stay all night at a sleepover. The one who grilled the hosts about teenage brothers, the house alarm system, the escape route in case of fire, Fido’s dog bite history, hunting rifles in the house, well, you get it. I wore the “Seatbelt Nazi” title with pride when reluctantly allowing my precious cargo into the cars of other parents. I promise I wasn’t crazy—just ever mindful of the gift she is and always fearful of losing this dream come true.

Life after infertility isn’t always “happily ever after”-even with a princess in your arms. Like all good fairy tales, there are also villains and drama, but a mom who slayed the infertility dragon can face anything, right? There were good times and challenging ones, milestones and accomplishments. We were just a happy, regular family. We hosted endless kid’s gatherings, mother-daughter tea parties, huge Halloween parties, Christmas cookie baking days, and super unique birthday parties. I was the Girl Scout leader, class mom, and all-around volunteer. Countless memories were captured on camera in pictures I already look longingly back on just two weeks after she’s gone away.

“Let her fly!”

I hate that expression. Not only because she’s not a bird, but because she’s my girl and she’s 7 hours away and I miss her. I’m so happy for her and so proud of her, but her life—as wonderful as it promises to be—is diverging from mine, and it’s hard to let go even if that’s the natural order of things and even though she’s at the perfect school for her and is adjusting well. I recently read a great description somewhere about the feeling of loss after college drop-off…that it’s not a tragedy or a death, but it’s not nothing either.

It’s definitely not nothing.

credit: T Minella

I’ve noticed parallels between the infertility years and the college send-off experience in the concepts of time, loss, emotions, and hope.

Time drags when you’re trying to conceive and also crawls when you’re staring down a calendar awaiting Parents’ Weekend at college or trying to fill the hours you spent each day for the last 18 years being needed for food, clothes, hugs, or rides by that now-missing child. Still two flips of the calendar to go before I see that sweet face again.

There’s the emptiness that washes over you during each loss or failed attempt to conceive and each fearful thought– that you don’t even want to whisper to the universe– that you’re not sure if you will ever have a baby. And then there’s the emptiness when life takes your child far away, even if it’s on to bigger and better things for them because it changes the role you suffered so long to earn and that you’ve cherished from the moment she took her first breath. Now, there’s a life being made without you in it, with friends you don’t know and experiences you’re not sharing. And it’s all good for her, yet it still hurts as you learn to step back to a daily life without that child, or perhaps any child, in it.

A wave of second-guessing hits a mom facing college drop-off as she uneasily asks herself, “Was I a good enough mom?”, remembering those promises to be “the best mother ever” that she made in those long-ago bargains with a higher power or the universe. She reflects on those times she wasn’t perfect, yearning for a do-over. With misplaced guilt, she hopes her child will forgive any missteps that derailed the plan to deliver a childhood so magical that Disney would have to up its game just to keep up. She hopes her now-grown child will reflect on her childhood as being maybe not perfect, but perfect for her.

Today I’ll confess that part of me is jealous of those of you whose miracles haven’t arrived yet because I know the 18 years of pure joy, love, and wonder that is likely on its way to you if you stay the course. And for those making childhood memories now, I have only two words of advice: Don’t Blink! Those old people I once gave imaginary eye-rolls to were right about the speed of time. I’m so thankful and honored for every minute of this blessing so far.

For every one of you who has sent your miracles off into the world, congratulations on surviving what may have been one of the hardest losses you’ve faced since trying to conceive them. Believe it will get easier, as those who managed this transition before us promise. Trust that they know the depths of your love for them, your pride in them, and your gratitude for being the one chosen to parent them. And as we’ve done since the journey to conceive them began, look forward with hope to the blessings the future will bring.

And to the inevitable phone calls asking for money.

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Secondary Infertility and “Kindergarten Empty Nest”

By Tracey Minella

September 8th, 2015 at 9:03 am


credit: khunaspix/

Maybe that first pregnancy came easy. Maybe it didn’t. But, boy did you want that baby.

Your first-born.

She made you a mom. Or a dad. He was the answer to prayers and the realization of dreams that began decades ago. You always expected to become a parent. If you struggled with infertility or losses beforehand, that angel’s birth was the sweet reward for your pain and perseverance.

But you wanted… more. And it hasn’t happened.

For years, you’ve wrestled with the thought of wanting a bigger family. Afraid to speak it aloud. Afraid to be judged ungrateful for the one child you do have. The one child you may’ve bargained with the Universe to have….the one you’d have sold your soul for. The single child that fertile folks and those struggling with infertility believe you should happily settle for.

But why can’t I have another, you often wondered as you savored every single minute of parenthood. Onesies and late-night feedings. First words and steps. Doctor visits. Bedtime stories and snuggles. Happy Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and happy every other holiday. Happy every single ordinary day, as well.

Until last week.

One minute you were at the bus-stop taking Facebook pictures and chatting up the other moms, as your firstborn …sporting a Minions backpack… giggled nervously with the other kids. The next minute a yellow bus whisked your baby away. And ran over your heart in the process.

How did this happen?

You returned to your empty house while the others pushed strollers home… your routine somehow disrupted. For the first time in five years, you may have all the time in the world. And hate it. What will you do to fill the 8 weeks hours until your baby comes home…or the 6 hours for those hovering “helicopter-parents” who covertly followed the bus?  How will you adjust to the new void in your life?

You suddenly realize that you really aren’t so different from the freshman college mom you pitied at Bed Bath & Beyond last month.

You’ve got kindergarten empty nest.

It is the price of secondary infertility. At best, it forces you to face the frustration over the ever-widening age gap between your first and potential second child. At worst, it makes you confront the possibility that what was supposed to be your firstborn may actually be your only child.

Kindergarten can also be tough on “lonely only-s”. Brace yourself for the inevitable plea, prompted by one of those early “All About Me” assignments: “When are you going to give me a little brother or sister?”

Just think…there are only 276 days until summer vacation. Not like anyone’s counting.

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Has anyone experienced Kindergarten Empty Nest? If so, what are your thoughts on coping with the adjustments it brings to you as parents and to your child? How have you handled it? Any tips?



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Confessions of an IVF Mom: I’m Jealous of Your Infertility

By Tracey Minella

July 16th, 2014 at 6:14 pm


image courtesy of arztsamui/

I am an IVF mom. When I was a younger infertile woman, I was jealous of pregnant women and mothers. They were in my face, everywhere I turned (or at least it felt that way). I didn’t begrudge them what they had. I just wanted a baby, too. More than air. Just like you do now.

Today, it’s worse. You still encounter the usual public displays of parenthood like people breastfeeding, playing in the park, or crowds at the school bus stop. But now there is the assault from social media, too. You can’t even hide in your own home. Newsfeeds stream with pregnancy sonogram photos, gender-revealing parties, birth announcements, and daily kiddie updates on Facebook ad nauseam.

Infertile people are sick of waiting for their turn. Sick of having to endure treatments. Sick of having their happiness and their lives put on hold. Infertile people are tired of being poked and prodded, of getting their hopes up and getting let down, of setbacks outnumbering wins, of months turning into years.

How could I be jealous of your infertility, you wonder? Surely I couldn’t possibly remember how it felt to have to hope every month that this would finally be the month I’d find out I was pregnant?

Ah, yes. That’s exactly what I remember. And that is where the twinge of jealousy lies… in the hope each month of conceiving. A hope that is long gone from my life, but that still exists in yours.

I spent many years in your agony, hoping. Hoping each month to become pregnant, to have a baby, to be a class mom. Hoping for a sonogram photo that measured a baby instead of an empty uterine lining. Hoping for a chance to scan a baby registry and set up the nursery I dared to dream of.

I imagined taxiing kids to activities all afternoon, running the PTA, hosting sleepovers, being a scout leader, a team coach, sending out those cute photo holiday cards. I dreamed that Disney would actually become the happiest place on Earth.

Years of that hope and sacrifice eventually turned into two dreams come true. And I am thankful for every single minute of what has surprisingly gone by far too fast. I wouldn’t change a thing except slow it down if I could.

An incident yesterday ignited this jealousy I now have of you.  I dropped my firstborn IVF miracle off at a two-week college residential program in NYC and a part of my heart broke on the spot. She will be home in two weeks and I vow to savor every minute of the next two years before she graduates high school and moves on. But where did the time go? I remember the day she was transferred. I remember all the details of getting my IVF pregnancy test results like it was yesterday.

I started to think back on what I went through to have her…on what you are possibly going through now. The injections and ultrasounds. The auto-pilot nature of the experience. The significance of a pregnancy test. The feeling of hope about creating a baby and all the promise of raising that new life. All the awesome, indescribable moments and years of joy, love, and absolute wonder ahead of those still on the journey.

And I kind of miss it. Part of me wants to go back to the beginning and live it all again. To go back to when all I had was that hope. Right before the dream came true. I don’t expect you to understand this now, but you may someday.

So, be thankful for the hope that burns in your heart that this… yes, this… could be the month you conceive your baby and the life you’ve dreamed of begins. Believe it or not, that’s an enviable place to be.

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For those on their journey: Did you ever think someone would envy your position? What is the most frustrating part of the waiting?

For those who are parents after infertility: Do you ever feel like this or think you may in the future?


Photo credit: freedigital


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