Stephanie FrancoEvent PlannerPhotography by Lauri LevenfeldStory by Lauri Levenfeld
This is the heartwarming story of my dear friend Stephanie and her battle with infertility. A tremendous woman and mom (all of which you will hear about later) who through much persistence and many years spent, opens up on her struggle to become a mom and the awesome power of will and way as she welcomes her second baby into the world next month. Stephanie is a business owner, a baker, a chef, an artist, a mom, a wife, a girlfriend, a risk taker, a good connector, and a hairstylist…and the list goes on. Today also marks the redesign and relaunch of her meeting, events, and wedding planning business SpotOn Events. A business that has gained worldwide success due to Stephanie’s keen eye, tack sharp organization, as well as, her tremendous originality and vision.Here’s a little more on Stephanie and her successful but complicated story of how her family began to grow.
I’m organized chaos – though no one would ever think it. I’ve always been called “put together” or “grace under pressure”. I’m relatively calm on the outside, steady, and solid while juggling a lots of details, thoughts, emotions underneath. I’m able to look at the big picture and break it down into smaller parts. I’ve very detail oriented when I want to be but not overly fussy or anal about everything. I learned to loosen up the reigns when we began our uphill battle to get pregnant.
Six months after we got married, I insisted that we start trying to get pregnant. I was 36 years old and knew that it may be slightly harder to conceive. After 6 months, I called doctor and lied saying we had been trying for 9 months. We took a series of tests and came back 2 months later to review. We were referred to an infertility specialist to start making some difficult decisions. After being given our options (IUI vs. IVF), we decided to go the IUI route with Clomid.
After 4 tries and no success, we were told that we were really IVF candidates. The thought of having to give myself injections seemed impossible for me to comprehend. I hated needles and never imagined I could do it. I’m a pretty strong, straightforward honest person (sometimes too direct or honest). This was starting to break me down. But after a year and 2 months of trying and our desire to have a baby mounting, we took the steps to get connected to a fertility clinic in San Francisco. More tests and meetings later, we had a date set for late October. Very optimistic and very nervous, the shots were a breeze.
I’m a real amateur gardener. I started a garden after 2 unsuccessful rounds of IVF. I needed a project to get into and keep my mind off of things. Our IVF started in October. At the time, I was getting acupuncture, blood tests and shots left and right and managing just fine. The sad news came a month later when we weren’t successful. So we ramped up our brains and bank account and set course on round number two during the holidays when we both had less work demands.
The process was even easier the second time as it was familiar. We had a positive pregnancy test, but ironically learned quickly that we had an ectopic pregnancy! Crap, so now I was finally pregnant but it had to be removed. Devastating beyond words. I don’t really remember this time, it was all a blur. But the garden gave me some solace, a place to be alone and be productive with my hands and a symbol of fertility.
It kept me going. I’ve since lost touch with garden, but hope to put some things in ground soon with Judah.
The most exciting moment as a mother was when I got the news I was pregnant. The most humbling was the process of conceiving Judah. I learned a lot through our IVF process, especially our last try two years after we started. We had renewed hope, lots of fear, and I had given up control. I did a learning process with a friend about what I was afraid of, and it turned out I was afraid of not being in control. It was then I realized I needed to release control! This wasn’t up to me, but to someone else, God, or whatever.
At the time, I was also taking an adoption classes as this was possibly our next course of action. One thing has always stuck with me, the facilitator said, “No matter what, with adoption, you will become a parent.” Once I heard it phrased that way, I realized I was going to be a mom. Regardless of just how I got there. Sure enough the phone call came one day while at work, I was pregnant! I cried and cried tears of joy all day and reported the news to the many, many friends and family who knew that was the day for our results. It was amazing.
Judah (2 years old)
His favorite things… His dog Miel, nanny Leo, Panda, surfing the net for airplanes, watching all of the vehicles out the window of our loft, baseball, swinging, throwing sand at park and his friends. Oh and being naked! And his all time favorite his “tita”, a cat doll given to us by LAURI and he fell in love with her around 6 months. He takes her to bed every night.
His bedroom… Dwell Studio: Navy/Aqua animal theme, baby Modello crib and dresser. Simple, comtempory, happy and fun. The best addition the bi-plane our neighbor Jim painted on his wall.
As a mom I am comfortable in my own skin. I use a lot of practicality and common sense. I have surrounded myself with good friends and family who I trust and ask their advice. I use what I learn to “edit” how I parent. I am not particularly nervous or worried and that helps me be a solid, supportive parent. I’ve been “ready” to be a mom for a long time. People have been telling me since my early twenties – “you are going to be the best mom”. I’m a nurturer, and I have a big soft side of me once you get to know me. I love the inherent teaching aspect of being a parent. I get tremendous pleasure from teaching and encouraging my son to explore, develop and learn about his environment. As my neighbor Gina puts it “We are the cruise directors of experiencing life” for our kids.
What I have learned from Judah…
Patience, playfulness, and joy in the very simplest of things. And that one can never get enough kisses in a day. I’m smitten with my son Judah – I just cannot believe my eyes. He really makes me beam.
I’m learning to be consistent especially when disciplining Judah, and I’m learning how hard it can be to not give in to his whining! I am also lucky to have a true partner in my husband Shlomo. Both babies of families of three. We come from completely different backgrounds and that makes life more interesting. We are both Virgos and 2 days apart (+ 8 years). I love that he is on top of world affairs and current restaurants. He is super smart and an old soul. I joke around that I know what he’s going to be like at age 80!
I really respect his professional opinion. He has been an awesome business partner with SpotOn Events. I could not have started the business without him and his support. And as a Dad, Shlomo is full on! He knows the whole routine and is awesome with Judah. We both travel so much, that we’re often taking care of Judah by solo while the other one is away. Although it is tiring and trying, Dad’s got it down.
Advice I can give to other moms…
Read and sing to your baby very early on. Have a sleep method in mind early and keep track of awake vs sleep periods to detect patterns. Make you own baby food, the stuff in the jars and boxes tastes like crap. Get in a playgroup with moms that have children the same age as soon as your child is born (or earlier). It’s a very valuable resource to hear what others are doing or tried. If you are doing IVF be patient, have hope and let go. And last, you are going to get a lot of advice, let some advice go though one ear and out the other! The wrap…We are now on our way to the birth of our second child next month. We did our fifth round and it took. I believe we were much more at ease with the process, and therefore, open to the magic.
I have many, many friends in differing stages of infertility. I suggest reaching out to friends and family and getting connected to people who are in similar situations for support. Locally there is Resolve.org. Being a parent is most definitely worth the struggle. We’re lucky to live in a time with these amazing scientific advances and adoption options. There is hope. And you are amazing for sharing my friend. Here is a photo from our latest family shoot with baby #2…xx.