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With a Grateful Heart - A Personal Journey Update

Updated: Apr 12

After grappling with the loss of a late first-trimester pregnancy with my first child, every aspect of motherhood has always felt like an extraordinary gift to me. The nausea and morning sickness served as a reassuring sign of my baby's growth—a sensation I hadn't experienced during our previous loss. I loved my little basketball of a belly, even proudly flaunting it in a bikini at eight months pregnant. I reveled in pregnancy. I felt cute. I was happy. I glowed. It gave me a sense of purpose that I had never really experienced before. 


The birth of my daughter marked the pinnacle of my happiness, a moment both profound and spiritual. It was otherworldly and I still reflect on this experience with awe. The hidden strength to which women go to birth our children felt like a secret kept from me.

 I felt the most powerful that I had ever felt in my life and realized the depths of strength that I too had—and the things that I was truly capable of.


 As I settled into motherhood, each day brought a renewed sense of joy, my heart overflowing with love for this tiny being who had forever changed my world. Nothing brought me as much fulfillment as this tiny cooing creature with her tiny reaching hands and her squishy little newborn butt scrunch. Nothing—not even my career, mattered to me the way that she did. I was elated at my new life with her in it. 


So when my husband suggested trying for another baby three months after giving birth and I declined, he was baffled.


"But you seem so happy!" he exclaimed, puzzled.


And I was. But even though I was doing well, my body still felt foreign to me. My boobs, having previously belonged to the itty bitty titty committee, were now engorged with milk, and I struggled with breastfeeding. My vagina was in tatters and sex held zero appeal for me. I suddenly despised going to work, which was completely unexpected. I entertained thoughts of quitting my job, but I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I became obsessed with our daughter's development, diving into extensive research on her emotional, social, cognitive, and nutritional growth. Yet, I wasn't sure what it all meant. Was this just a phase?


I felt disconnected from myself in countless ways, off balance—not necessarily in a negative sense, but like stepping onto a swaying boat embarking on a new journey. There was potential, but also uncertainty. I wanted to be careful not to tip overboard.

That's how I felt. Moreover, I couldn't fathom loving another person as much as I loved our daughter. People said you would, but I was content.


So I replied, "Not yet." I needed to find my footing.




And I did. I harnessed the new power that I felt and I quit my job. For the first time in my life, I truly advocated for myself. I stopped letting people make me feel small. What would I be teaching my daughter if I didn’t? I dreamed of a place that showed other mothers the power that they too held, a place that could support them through whatever journey they were on. A place that felt safe for them to discover their new identities and relish in them. 

And then I built it.


Vivie turned one, and a month later, Le Village opened its doors. As the dust (literally) settled and as we gained momentum, I began to consider expanding our family. 


Then, four months after our opening, COVID-19 struck. Nate shuttered his small business, and I followed suit with Le Village. As other families transitioned to remote work, we remained stagnant, unsure of our future. How could a membership-based space for parents and a business specializing in conference exhibits survive in this new reality? It felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under us. Businesses more seasoned than ours were closing rapidly around us. We were surviving on unemployment wages to make ends meet. All of our savings, all of our life’s work, felt like it was slipping away. It was truly terrifying. It was hardly time for another baby.


We dug in our heels, determined to persevere. I pivoted our business model, offering virtual services. Le Village Connected and Le Village Unboxed were born. Our membership stuck with us—and the namesake became reality. Our members, many of them also small business owners, became respected colleagues. Then they became playdate buddies. Then they became casual friends, and finally, they became some of the most trusted people in my life. They are an extended family. A true village. I learned that it didn’t matter what building we were all in—that the community was what kept the wheels turning. Nate and I slowly started to make sense of the hand that we were dealt. I found solace in nurturing my daughter. Nate returned to his passion for carpentry. Though we weren't making money, we survived. We persevered, and slowly, over two years, the world and our businesses returned to a new normal where remote and hybrid work was typical, (which of course was a boon for Le Village!).


“Do you think we should try for another baby?” I finally posed the question on a sunny summer day. 


“Are we too old?” Nate pondered. “Am I too old?” I was 35. He was 39. 


“Let’s just try and see where it goes!”


And try we did. 


We tried at first casually. And then with more purpose. The months went by. I started having flashbacks to the miscarriage that sent me into a deep depression for months afterwards. We tried harder. I did the ovulation kits. I peed on the sticks. I took my basal body temperature. That’s what got us Vivie. And every month my period would come and my spirits would sink a little lower.


On my 37th birthday, the reality of my age and the statistical odds weighed heavily on me.

"I think we need to get some help," I confessed.


"I thought we were taking a casual approach," Nate countered.


“I know but…” I trailed off trying to articulate the months of inner turmoil I felt.


I loved our family as it was, I really did. Unlike my friends, I didn’t feel the pull to another child because I felt like it would complete us. And I didn’t believe that only children were doomed to loneliness any more than I believed that children of siblings automatically got best friends for life. Happy families come in all shapes and sizes. I knew that from my own childhood. But the opportunity for tiny fingers and toes. The chance to re-experience that phase of motherhood—to feel those happy moments all over again? It beckoned. “I just don’t want to have any regrets.” I said finally. 

"Okay, let's try harder," Nate agreed with a smile.


We sought help from a fertility clinic. While the experience felt impersonal at times, we knew everyone involved shared the same goal: to help us conceive. We prepared for IUI, encouraged by positive test results and the belief that we could succeed since we already had Vivie. Nightly hormones and frequent doctor's visits became routine. “All is well, all is well” was the report. I thought—this will cure our timing issue for sure! All is well! We inseminated and then we waited the obligatory 2 weeks until the blood draw that would confirm my pregnancy. 





I got up early to take a pregnancy test the morning of. I did it on my first pee to ensure I had the clearest result. I was sure it would be positive because why wouldn’t it be?! I did my hair and tried to wait. I fiddled with this and that in the dawn of the bathroom until finally my excitement could no longer contain me! 


And it was negative.


I couldn’t believe it. And that’s a feeling of disappointment I don’t know how to describe. I took another test, baffled. Maybe it was a bad test. 


But it was also negative. 


I numbly went downstairs and sat in a chair alone. The house was dark. I flipped on the lights from our Christmas tree to find comfort. I tried to make sense of it all. 


To be true, I had never gone back on birth control following the birth of Vivie. I should have known then that something was amiss but you think, oh the stress, oh just missed timing, oh unhealthy lifestyle, oh…oh…oh. 


“I am not that old! I have eggs! I don’t understand!”  I screamed to no one in my head. 


Nate came down a little before Vivie was set to awake. He bounded down the steps, stopped, and then sat down silently across from me. After 15 years with someone you can just sense them. I let go of the sobs that were pent up in my chest. And he held me. “The test could be wrong,” he whispered as my sobs subsided. But neither of us believed it. 


It was getting late in the morning. So I took my crumpled soul, folded it neatly and put it in a pocket. I pasted on a smile for my daughter. I went to work. I’ve done this before when we had our miscarriage. I am a duck. Everything is still on the surface but I am a flurry of feeling underneath.  

Later we would get the call just moments before walking into the Le Village holiday party that I host for my staff. The bloodwork confirmed it. We were not pregnant. I went to the party and hosted and made sure the pizza was there, the Christmas bonuses were available, and the presents for the kids were ready. Tired teachers bowled and celebrated and gifts were exchanged. 


Finally after midnight, I crawled into the shower alone. I unfolded my feelings as I sat on the floor while the water washed over me and I tried to level my expectations with the reality of “Unexplained Infertility”. I let the feelings of failure, confusion, fear, anger and resentment wash over me too. And I sobbed. 


In the morning we decided to do more IUI. We’d try harder.


The months went by. The results were the same.


One morning I texted this to my best friend:

Sometimes I really miss the old versions of my Vivie girl. She’s buckling herself into the car now. I hated buckling her into the car, standing there struggling with the buckles, freezing your ass off, and then yesterday she hopped in all by herself and said, “I can do it mom” and got in alone. And I thought, huh. And then we got to the door and she unbuckled herself and she said, “that’s okay mom, I can just go”, and she hopped out and walked up alone. And she waved at me from the door giddy with excitement at her newfound independence and I laughed and waved. And then I thought…huh. 

I’m up early. I couldn’t sleep. I took a pregnancy test and it was negative. I started spotting yesterday so I’m not surprised. You kinda tell yourself—“it could be implantation spotting!” In this insane person way. But I knew. More today. I’m sure I’ll start my period shortly. Blood draw to confirm on Monday.

I can’t help asking—Who am I if I am not the mother to a small child? I don’t know who this person is. Who do I even want her to be? It’s so ironic to me—I have adored every phase of motherhood I’ve had—genuinely. Loved it. I love being a mom to a little one. Being a mom to an independent child feels so…separate. I feel like I barely see Vivie sometimes. She’s at school. Aftercare. She’s gone from 8-6 daily. And I know this is normal. She comes home and gets her shows. And then it’s 6:30 and it’s like dinner, bath, bed, BOOM. Another day. And you look up and they don’t even need you to buckle them in. Damn.--

I tell my husband the next day that I want to do IVF. He raises his eyebrows and stares at me over his coffee. “But you hate needles. You said you’d never do IVF!”


"Nate, this is my Hail Mary. I'm almost 38, and you're nearly 42. Vivie is nearing 6—what are we even doing chasing this dream anymore? This will be our last shot, but I need to try." I say firmly.


Nate drummed his fingers on the kitchen table before finally nodding. "Okay, Hail Mary pass," he said.


At the doctors it felt like we’d leveled up. Up to that point I had mostly been meeting with nurses and techs. Now we got THE doctor. There were presentations. And shortly thereafter I received the most gigantic box of needles and drugs that I have ever seen.I started a whole other level of hormones which had a profound effect on me. During the months of IUI treatment, I gained 8 pounds on my petite 4’11” frame, which I felt was insane. But it felt as though the new shots were causing me to gain weight overnight and within a week, I no longer felt like myself.

 And of course there were the shots themselves that sent me into an anxiety spiral each time they were administered. 2 in the morning, 4 at night. Plus the handful of pills. What a fabulous way to start and end a day. 


We chose not to hide this process from Vivie, involving her in the daily routine of administering injections. It seemed impossible to hide, really. While she didn’t understand its purpose, she eagerly helped. Nate, being diabetic, was no stranger to needles. Vivie would disinfect my belly and hold my hand, ready to apply the band-aid. Nate took on the responsibility of administering medications and injections to prevent me from having a full-fledged meltdown fueled by fear. We embarked on this challenging journey as a family, facing anesthesia, hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, weight fluctuations, and finally, OHSS, together. Although I had to endure certain aspects alone, I always felt supported by my incredible family unit.


We try so hard. 




And at the end of it all—we do not get a baby.

I’m sorry if that is not the happy ending that you were waiting for. It’s not the one I was hoping for either. But, sometimes, that is the ending. We are not pregnant. 


The truth is, we could keep at it, endlessly. I hold in my heart all those families out there, trying, Trying, TRYING for that one perfect addition. But we've already got our "one." We're beyond blessed. And frankly, I'm over playing "baby Russian roulette," as one friend hilariously put it. (We might hit this time!) The toll it's taken on my body, my work, my relationships, my child, my family—it's been significant. To those of you who've been by my side through it all, I can't thank you enough.



I am making the conscious decision (and trust me, it's a departure from my usual self!) to find contentment.


I'm still processing what that means. Initially, it feels ironic that the woman who created a space for mothers only gets to experience motherhood there once. My friends remind me that I'm still a mother. I'm sure I'll delve deeper into these feelings, discussing the worries of being a mother to one child and the adjustments that our family is making, in due time. For now, I wanted to share this journey.

Time is such a gift. I'm eager to devote more time to our classrooms and engaging with our families, rather than being in a doctor's office. I look forward to spending more time looking at properties and exploring new cities for our next Le Village, rather than managing fertility schedules. I am excited for more time with my perfect girl and the opportunity to travel and experience every moment of her childhood with a full heart, rather than being distracted by a dream that was never mine to have. And finally, I am looking forward to more time for myself, to fully discover the next version of who I am, whoever she may be.




Thank you again to my village who have been with me for the months and years this has taken. I would not be able to move forward in such a healthy way without you.


As I finalize this blog, a beautiful spring day filters through my windows and whispers of new beginnings. The boat sways a little beneath my feet. Onward to new adventures. ;)


With a grateful heart,

Daniella


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Thank you for sharing your journey, space, family, and heart with us. This is beautiful and heartbreaking, and also hopeful and so brave. Love you! All the versions I have had the pleasure to meet so far and all the ones yet to discover!

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🥹 Big hugs!

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