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This post has been a bit of a surreal one to write. Because, to be honest, I still can’t quite believe where life has us currently.
Nine months ago, we were newly pregnant and over the moon to be expecting a second IVF baby around my birthday at the beginning of May. We were celebrating our 5th anniversary of living in Spain, applying for permanent visas to be able to stay much longer, and looking into purchasing our first home in the city. We found ourselves in such a sweet spot of daily life here in Barcelona surrounded by dear friends (including the cutest little circle of buddies for Teo), fulfilling work we both loved, and a happy return to post-pandemic traveling around Europe.
But shortly thereafter, our hearts broke when our doctor suddenly went quiet during an ultrasound one day. We ended up having a d&c just down the hallway from where we delivered Teo, which was unfortunately followed by months of additional complications, a barrage of doctor’s appointments, some truly awful medications, and ultimately one additional surgery. For months it felt like we were stuck in this frustrating grief time warp, finding it difficult to move forward emotionally while my body was still clinging to the pregnancy physically. Thankfully we eventually made it to the other side of things and were given the green light to continue again with fertility treatments if interested. So after talking with our doctor and giving things a lot of thought, we decided this spring to undergo a second full round of IVF in the hopes of bringing one more babe into our little family. (More on that below.) But in the midst of all of that, life took another sharp left turn that we didn’t see coming…
Our family is now moving back to Kansas City in June. ♡
To say this move is unexpected and bittersweet would be a understatement. I have to admit I’m still working to wrap my mind around it most days, since it’s just such a complete 180 from what we had envisioned for these next few years ahead. But Barclay and I have always said it would likely be our parents’ health that eventually drew us back to the United States. And when things recently took a difficult turn for one of our families, it felt clear to us that we wanted to be back as soon as possible to help. So after taking turns making a number of trips back to the States over the past few months, we now have one-way tickets booked for our entire family in less than two months.
Our days are currently spent swimming in a sea of logistics, trying to piece together the puzzle of an international move with two adults, a toddler, our sweet elderly pup, and all of our belongings. It has been…a lot. (Especially in the midst of IVF plus everything else going on.) But our friends and family back in the States have gone above and beyond to help us sort through various details of getting resettled and have generously welcomed us back with such open arms. And our wonderful crew here in Barcelona has firmly decided it’s not a forever good-bye and that we’re simply going to squeeze in as many good times as possible together here before we leave. So emotions are running high in our home right now, but we’re trying to remind ourselves when logistics get overwhelming that everything will somehow eventually sort itself out, and above all, we are counting ourselves enormously lucky to be surrounded by such a loving crew around the world.
Anyway, clearly, lots to catch up on! So for anyone interested in reading more about the latest chapter of our IVF journey, adventures in purchasing a house (and all the things!) from overseas, plans for our remaining seven weeks here in Europe, plus a special garden update from Mali, here’s the latest and probably final update I’ll probably sharing from here in Barcelona.
IVF, Take Two
When we first found out last summer that our embryo transfer was successful and we were pregnant again, I have to admit that my very first thought was — thank God we don’t have to do another full round of IVF again. (Famous last words in the world of infertility!) Of course, after our miscarriage a few months later, we found ourselves right back at square one with zero remaining embryos and hearts hoping more than ever for a little sibling for Teo. So we reluctantly decided to dive back in for one final full round.
But I feel like it’s worth sharing that our second round of IVF ended up feeling light years easier than our first. ♡
As some of you might remember, our first round coincided with the exact week that Spain locked down and everything in Barcelona (including our fertility clinic) was suddenly forced to close and new pandemic panic was at its peak. Add to that the fact that our hearts were already fragile going into the process after a long stretch of infertility. And as the very first of our friends to navigate the whole process, man, we were just so damn anxious every step of the way.
Well fast forward three years later and it now feels like everyone we know has done IVF lately! (Ok, small exaggeration, but seriously more than a dozen of our close friends and family members have gone through the process since we did.) It also just feels like fertility treatments are so much more openly discussed and common now. So between our own familiarity with the process, plus the daily reminder looking in Teo’s eyes that this science can indeed create little miracles, IVF 2.0 for our little family has felt so much easier and lighter and — dare I say — even fun at points?!
Our doctor totally feels like a friend now, which definitely makes our million appointments all the more enjoyable. On a whim, I also decided to try conquering my lifelong fear of needles and administer all of my own shots time round, which I’m sure is no big deal to many but felt genuinely empowering to me. Barclay and I also decided to commit to a strict anti-inflammatory diet for many months leading up to and during the process (basically no gluten/dairy/sugar/alcohol/caffeine), which we think may have actually made a significant difference in achieving better retrieval and fertilization results than we were expecting.
That said, we did just find out over the weekend that our first embryo transfer officially failed, which is never easy news to hear. But we were fortunate enough to have multiple viable embryos this round and will hopefully have the chance to try a second transfer in May. So we’re hoping, hoping, hoping that we might get lucky and be able to bring another tiny family member back home with us in June. ♡ Vamos a ver.
Kansas City, Here We Come
Wow, wow. There are so many things I could say about this move right now, but here are a few of the biggest updates lately:
- We bought a house! Sight-unseen! Whew, talk about a tricky time to buy a house with market inventory at a record low in the Midwest and prices being so high. There were hardly any new homes coming on the market when we started considering a move home and we were beginning to lose hope that we would find something we liked. But three weeks ago, we got word about a lovely 93-year-old house that was about to hit the market. So we put in an offer literally a few hours later (before they were even allowing realtors in the house, eek!), stayed up until 4am to negotiate and sign all of the contracts, and ended up getting it. We’ll close the week before we arrive and are excited to be back on the Missouri side again.
- We’re also re-buying allll the things. We currently own essentially zero home furnishings, having given away or sold everything we owned before moving abroad, followed by 6 years living in furnished rentals in Barcelona. So we will be repurchasing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g again from scratch — from mattresses to mixing bowls to mops to a mower, you name it — which feels at once very exciting and also very overwhelming, lol. I’m taking the lead on all things house-related right now, while Barclay is working hard to quickly purchase two cars, all of the various kinds of insurance, phone plans, figure out daycare details for Teo, etc. It’s definitely a step more complicated trying to figure everything out from overseas, but our new family motto is “we’ll eventually figure it out.” I really hope so! ;)
- Fiona already made it back. Our sweet elderly dog Fiona was diagnosed with cancer last summer just after our other pup, Henry, passed away and probably doesn’t have much longer left with us. She never really took to city life here and loves nothing more than wide open spaces. So we made the decision to send her back early to Kansas City to stay with some dear friends who have a lot of land to live her best life rolling in the grass and soaking up as much sunshine as possible until we return. We miss her so much right now and can’t wait to be reunited and have her be the queen of our new backyard.
- We’re ready to show Teo KC. More than anything, the thing that excites us about this move is getting to bring Teo home to KC. We can’t wait for him to finally have regular in-person time with his grandparents and grow close to so many of our longtime friends and their kiddos. And there are plenty of Midwestern things — grassy backyards, awesome playgrounds, easy-to-visit swimming pools, fireworks, Kansas City bbq! — that we’re excited for him to experience too. I have to be honest that it’s hard right now for my mind to see beyond how much we’re going to miss everything he loves, and especially everyone he loves, here in Barcelona. But I know that this next chapter will be special for him in so many new ways too.
- It’s all still feels deeply bittersweet. All of that said, moving’s just hard. Change is hard. Whenever people ask us how we’re doing lately, we say it’s all of the “ands.” We’re deeply sad to be leaving our community here in Barcelona…and we’re really excited to be back near longtime friends and family again in KC. We’re nervous about of all of the changes ahead…and we also feel peace that this is exactly where our family needs to be right now. We feel a bit crazy leaving Barcelona at a moment when things are basically the best they’ve ever been…and yet we realize that’s exactly how we felt about KC when we took the leap of faith to move away six years ago. Love and grief are always two sides of the same coin, right? So even though it feels incredibly hard to leave right now, we know that’s because we’ve had the gift of falling in love with two places on earth that now feel like home.
Well one thing Spain has definitely taught us is “aprovechar” opportunities to travel whenever we find them. So with less than two months til we move, we’ve decided to make the most of our remaining stretch in Europe!
As this post goes live, we’re going to be landing in Morocco for a bucket list trip to celebrate my 40th birthday. (Camels, souks, desert glamping…a dream come true!) Later this month, depending on how scheduling for our next IVF transfer unfolds, we’re hoping to head out to visit some friends in the Costa Brava and maybe also squeeze in a quick trip to Vienna. At the beginning of June, we’ve booked tickets to take Teo to Athens and Crete to soak up some Grecian sunshine. Then just before we move, a bunch of girlfriends have organized a trip to Stockholm for a final hurrah until we meet again.
It’s going to be a crazy whirlwind of a few months, but I’m so excited to squeeze in a few more European adventures while we’re on the continent. If you have travel recs for any of those destinations, I’d love to hear them!
Another Garden = Completed ♡
Finally, I’m excited to share the wonderful news that construction on the community garden that so many of you helped to support has officially been completed. The new garden is thriving!!
271 local women are now able to earn steady income year-round in the N’Korobougou Garden growing fresh and healthy produce to feed their families and support their community. Thanks to the new (and, importantly, sustainable) water well that was successfully drilled in the garden, clean water is now available to the gardeners and their local community for all 12 months of the year, which is an absolute game-changer in this part of Mali where fresh water is typically scarce each year during the 8-month dry season. Now that the garden has a consistent water source, all of these gardeners are able to earn a considerably higher year-round income working in the garden than they had before. And they have been so excited to diversify their crops now that the longer growing season allows them much more flexibility.
This garden is also already making a significant social impact in the community. In this part of Mali, it is common for women to be responsible for all aspects of the daily operation of the household and caring for their children, in addition to working outside of the home to try and earn additional income for their families. So now that the women of N’Korobougou Garden are able to earn significantly more income while also working less hours per week, they have reclaimed precious time from their day to focus on other priorities. They have already began creating new savings plans for themselves, micro-loan programs to support one anothers’ business ventures, and invest in community priorities that are important to them, such as funding salaries for teachers in their local schools.
The garden is also already making a dramatic difference in the health of the local environment. There is no question that rural communities throughout this region are inextricably linked to the health of their land. The worse their land fares, the worse the community fares. For the past few decades, nearly all local gardeners had to resort to cutting down trees during the 8-month dry season to sell as firewood or turn into charcoal, a practice which yielded low profits and had unfortunately had devastating consequences in the area with regards to deforestation. Now that they can earn an income working in the garden year-round, the women of N’Korobougou have shared with us that they no longer cut down trees because growing fresh produce is simply easier and more profitable. This will have dramatic impact on the native tree population in the coming years, improving the quality of the soil, access to foraged foods, animal habitats, prevention the erosion of the precious top soil that remains, which will (full circle!) also improve access to fresh water for the entire village.
I want to thank you all again for your support in helping to launch this garden. The stories we are hearing from the women of N’Korobougou are beyond encouraging, and it’s such a privilege to be able to partner with you all and The Wash Project to help this special garden grow.
“Before, the dry season used to bring food insecurity, but this dry season is different because we now have crops in our garden to eat and to sell. This new garden has a welcomed change in our community because it has created jobs for 271 women. We can only thank The Wash Project, because this partnership has given us hope and freedom.”
– Maïmouna Doumbia, member of N’korobougou Garden