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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
That post made me cry! I wish you all the best with your new adventure back in the US.
Wow – I am speechless. Welcome back to KC! Wishing you all the best for your last weeks in Europe and nothing but good things when you get here.
Oh, I am so sorry that you are having to move back for this reason but, as a KC resident, KC will be even a better place with your family here. I’m so glad to hear that Fiona is already here, as my immediate response was to start to feel stressed about her return. We were just in Athens, and the best food we had in the city was at Manh Manh. There was a salad with caramelized hazelnuts that was fabulous, and a lentil salad that was amazing too (I see that this has pork in it, but I’m pretty sure they made it vegetarian for us, because we were with a number of vegetarians). And their bread was delicious. Good luck with the move and enjoy all of your travels!!
Oh Ali, this is a lot. I am sending so many good vibes to you and your family as you navigate this. Just remember there are so many strangers on the internet cheering you on!
You are 100% correct – fertility treatments are so much more normalized now. We did rounds of IVF in 2017 and 2019, and it worked out for us. I’m crossing all my fingers and all my toes for you guys!
Good luck with the move! Leaving home is so hard, but it’s just goodbye for a little while.
Best of luck with all the things. ❤
Wishing you and your family the very best. May the path before you be filled with sunshine and blessings!
Wow. Didn’t see this coming! Hard to believe you have been in Barcelona 6 years. Good luck with your move.
Totally understand the feelings, as a military family the moves get harder each time. But being able to be near family when needed is so special!
Safe journeys and adventures! Enjoy the whirlwind!
Oh my, that really is a lot over such a short period of time. Good luck with handling everything, sending you good vibes and hugs!
Praying for all the Lord has in store!
Thanks for sharing. It matters. Your testimony is precious as are you!!!
Wow, big news. Totally get all of the emotions! Lots going on. Our daughter is moving to KC this summer, seems to be a very fun city. Hope you have some great adventures before you move and that everything goes smoothly. Also, prayers for your family and, as difficult as this big change is for you, happy that you are able to be there to help.
Life is bittersweet at times, and also full of endless possibilities. Having been an avid reader of your adventures, the recipes and your thoughtful takes on life in general it’s clear you will make the very best of this new direction in your journey. All the very best to you Ali and family.
Welcome back to the US. I pray this new season will be as fulfilling as the last one. I’ve followed your journeys for a long while. Love your recipes too! May God bless and arroyos and your family as you go through the days ahead.
I will be more than happy to help in whatever way you need in June (after June 18). It has been such an honor to know Jen and Howard and my gratitude to and for them is deep. We are FB friends and they have my contact info, so let me know. I know the move will be sudden and bittersweet, but we welcome you back to KC!
you are so brave…and i love the picture of the three of you—so very happy! how has that son of yours grown so fast??! i wish you much happiness and ease with the move back to the US, and may i be one of the first to say…welcome home.
Wonderful article! Enjoyed every word! Wish you big good luck on this next journey and sincerely pray all goes well for your family. Am looking forward to pictures of new home!
I am SO happy that God has shown you how and when to make life full of happiness even when sad things have happened. The re-establishment with friends and family will exponentially multiple the JOY that God has in store for you. I am praying that all your efforts work smoothly and that your family’s GOOD health and strength continues to sustain your timeline.
Blessings and hugs, Linda Jordan Hopper
So sorry for the reasons you have to come back. Safe travels, good luck with the IVF, and welcome back to the USA!
Oh my goodness! What a journey you all have been on! Sending prayers for ALL sorts of things – God knows them best. Keep the faith, hang on & remember to breathe! Betsy :)
Wishing your family safe journey back to KC and that the transition goes smoothly.
All the best to you and your family, including your sweet dog. You have a wonderful way of dealing with upheavals! Enjoy your new house and all of the time with your extended families.
Sending you lots of virtual hugs and well wishes for this next phase with your familiy. All the best!
I’m exhausted just reading about your lives over the last several months. Good luck on the move. Hope all goes well with the IVF🙏 and I keep you and yours in my thoughts . Be well! PS Teo is beautiful little boy!
Wishing you and your family a good transition to KC. Life will certainly be different from Barcelona! And I also wish you much luck with your IVF journey. Looking forward to your new posts. Take care and safe travels.
So much excitement! Praying for all you have happening in such a short time. I live in KC on the Missouri side and am excited that you will be here!
Beyond amazing. Thank you for sharing. I’m breathless and as you said still processing all this. But all good things. Sending you lots and lots of love 💕 💕 💕.
Hi, I’m not one to respond to these blogs but your piece here has touched me deeply. I am a retiree now, time truly does fly by, so my one piece of advice to you and your beautiful family is this, life is full of complications and seemingly always at the least desirable time. Roll with the punches and remember that everything happens for a reason. Take the time to breathe and spend that time with those you love. Everything will fall into place and just remember the biggest obstacle speaking for myself of course, was always patience. Do whatever necessary to achieve patience, things will fall into place and as long as you have the love & support of those you love & care for, all will be well. Wishing you & yours the very best on your new journey.
Wowza! Didn’t see that coming! Sorry that your move needs to be for that reason, and I hope your parents all are doing well; my hope for your entire family is that it is a wonderful, joyous, loving adventure. May your new home be everything you wish it to be and more; plus, hooray for Fiona and open spaces! Really, when you think about it, now you have two welcoming homes, you global citizens! Yay!
(And not to be the voice of doom, but with many new VERY strict laws and penalties regarding women’s bodies and conception here in the US, please make sure that you are comfortable with how IVF treatments may have changed here before you begin any treatments. Just want you to be prepared, as you have been very honest about your struggles, and I wouldn’t want you to be further traumatized by anything.)
I just want to second the comments on changes to a woman’s ability to make medical decisions for herself in light of many of the new laws since Roe v Wade was overturned. I am sure you have family and friends who can comment on the political changes in Missouri. I hope you never find yourself in a position where you have challenges in getting what is best for your health.
Ali, you, your husband, little Teo and your elderly pup have been through a lot! They say that “CHANGE” is “Life giving ,” but WHEW! You are DEFINITELY experiencing change! I will pray for you ans your sweet family, that God will richly bless you! And I have tried a few of your recipes and my husband and I LOVE them 💕! And you stay so trim! You are truly blessed! Take care, Ali!
I’ve enjoyed your recipes and posts since before your move to Barcelona. Your site is my go to when making something new. And I appreciate your sharing your travel adventures and life story. Best wishes for a smooth transition as you return to the US.
I SO enjoy reading your posts and wondered where you’v been…..a bit busy I ‘d say! It must be bittersweet to return to the states however as we all age, so do our parents if we are fortunate to have them with us….no one can predict the length of life for any one of us so it is always best to follow your heart and it seems your heart took you to Barcelona and now back home. I wish you and your family Godspeed on your journey and pray that your IVF will be a success and you can carry a bit of Barcelona with you back home! Looking forward to seeing what other GREAT ADVENTURES are in store for you….wishing you well!
WOW! I was overwhelmed just reading your post, with all y’all have to do before you move back to the states. Taking time to visit places before you leave will hopefully be a stress reducer. Good luck with your ‘new, old life in Kansas City.
Sending you big hugs, my sweet Ali and Barclay. Love and prayers, and we hope you’ll eventually make it out to Sunriver, OR to visit us. We are excited for you (but understand …..), and we are so proud of you, in so many ways. You guys are precious!
Prayers that you come home with another baby-in-tow, and hoping for health for everyone in your circle. Moving back Stateside is quite the adjustment but there are so many things for you all to look forward to. I have no doubt you will all handle it beautifully and it will be exactly what is meant for this time in your life. Blessings and best of luck!
If anyone can work with such a huge Liffey changing event/move I am confident that it is you are Barclays. You are pioneers in so many ways and have given us all living examples of how we should all take that leap of faith to try something new in our lives. We all know you will settle right in once you are back in the US – welcome home – but isn’t it splendid that you now have 2 “homes”? One in Spain and one in the USA. Most of all I pray for IVF success during this 3rd round. Hugs to all!
Best of luck to you. We are happy that you are coming back to the states. We need more wonderful people like you.
So happy to hear you’ll be state-side once again. I’m sure Grandma Linda & Grandpa Alan are both over the moon. Safe travels!
(designer of The Sweetheart Tree and friends with your Mom and Dad who we always saw at the Nashville shows.
I, as well as Clare, am teary-eyed…. All three of you are sources of inspiration😇😇👼 I ever wish the best for you as well as the family member who is confronting a health issue.
Incidentally, I relocated from New York to Virginia almost eight months ago to the day. Although it was not being transported from one continent to another, I certainly relate to moving generally. In my case, I left the state where I was born and was living my entire life.
Enjoy every second of your adventurous voyages in Europe to which you referred❣ It indeed seems that Teo will love his new home. I am sending much love and you will continue to be in prayers and thoughts🙏
Have a wonderful day,
Oh my gosh I feel your post so much so I had to comment (I usually just follow for your amazing recipes but stumbled upon this update!). We also had a heartbreaking miscarriage with our final embryo (although we decided not to do another round and that our toddler would likely remain an only child; but it was our 4th egg retrieval and we had transferred 10 embryos and had 6 miscarriages). And then soon after we made the decision to move across the country to come back to the Midwest and be close to our aging parents. It’s definitely been bittersweet. The place where you experienced the first few years of your child’s “firsts” and developed friendships that went from no kids to many kids is hard to leave (along with the familiar routines and great bakeries and restaurants!), but after almost a year “back home” we are plugging in and it has been wonderful to pick up old friendships, experience your childhood city now as a parent, and watch your parents develop a wonderful relationship with your child while all being there for each other. So just a comment to say I feel you, hang in there through the changes and know that it will soon be easier again.
I am so sorry for all you have been through and that all of your plans have changed! Hard to believe you have been in Spain for 6 years! Enjoy all the adventures to come! Moving is hard but you have an awesome team behind you! Fingers and toes crossed for baby to come! Sending love and hugs!!! 😘
Oh goodness I empathize with this post so much! My family and I recently moved back to my hometown somewhat unexpectedly after many years living in another state due to a family member’s declining health and it has been all the things- wonderful, hard, joyful, sad, bittersweet. I do love our “new life” but have definitely grieved over our “old life” and also the direction I thought life was leading us. Those hard and fast pivots can do a number on you! Many prayers to you and your family as you embark on this new chapter- it will be hard but I hope also joyful as well! 🙏🏻
I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your baby. Hopefully your subsequent try will work out. I love how you are choosing to celebrate your birthday. Make sure you eat everything you can get your hands on (I love what I’ve had of Moroccan food), and I hope you get to spend time with camels. They are wonderful animals. When you do get to moving, I hope it goes very smoothly and that everything works out well – including that you get to go back to Barcelona.
Wow! You and your family have been through so much! However, you are strong and resilient! This is just another chapter in your life! Have a great return to Kansas City and when you get a chance, come on up to Canada! Lots to see and do here!
Reading this post make me emotional and somewhat tearful. Our family has move many times from the South to the West Coast, to the East Coast, and to the MidWest. We know how it feels to be new in one place and to have to say “good bye” a few years later.
Your family will be in our prayers for a log time, and we are sending you our best vibes for a smooth and safe journer, and also, if it in God’s Plan, a new member to your family.
We look forward to future postings. May God bless you today and always.
Good luck with IVF, the move, and sending good vibes for everyone’s health!
Ali, Enjoy your vacation time in Europe. Sending best wishes for your return to KC. 😊
Can’t wait to give you a huge hug!!!
This post is indeed emotional, but very grateful to you for sharing your life’s adventures. Both happy and sad. I wish you and Barclay the very best as you head home. Safe travels!
So sorry Ali to hear all that you and family have been through in the last few months. A big welcome back to USA, and prayers for safe travels. Keep your faith and positive attitude that all will work out. I think of you every time I make one of your many delicious recipes. Hugs, Karen