11/22/2016

A Tremendous Honor for My Favorite Story

It was rainy. So rainy. All day it was rainy and cold.

But the weather wasn't about to stop us from enjoying our night out in NYC.

Our driver picked us up at 4:45 p.m., and 30-minutes later he was opening the doors for us at The [beautiful] Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers.

I held my gown off the ground with one hand and Chris' arm with my other, and we walked through the doors together.
RESOLVE Night of Hope
It. Was. BEAUTIFUL.
RESOLVE Night of HOPE
I mean, look at the view:
NYC Gala
After a few photos and fancy appetizers, we found our seats and dinner was served.
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala
Wine was poured. Lots of wine. But I was far too nervous to drink. I've been away from public speaking for more than two years now. I talk to toddlers and babies and WEAR YOGA PANTS with spit up stains and crushed Cheerios on my butt.
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala Emcee Tracey Wilson
The night's host Tracey Wilson energized the crowd. Her enthusiasm was contagious. And her story -- her journey through infertility -- is inspirational (watch her "coming out" video here).
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala
Plus, if I'm being completely honest, I'm glad she was sitting next to me during the salad course because let's be real: I didn't quite know how to eat off of this plate. ;)
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala NYC
RESOLVE’s President & CEO, Barbara Collura opened up the award portion of the night by inviting CNN's Alisyn Camerota on stage to accept the Hope Award for Achievement.
CNN Alisyn Camerota RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala
Other award recipients made their way to the stage and eloquently shared their appreciation for the recogition of their significant contributions to the infertility community.
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala Awards
How an Iowa "mom-blogger" like me was worthy of standing among these articulate people who have accomplished SO MUCH with IVF/infertility coverage and laws and access to care is [still] beyond my comprehension.
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala NYC
I nervously waited back stage before I was introduced as the recipient for the Hope Award for Best Blog. Don't trip. Breathe. Don't trip. Breathe...
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala NYC Chelsea Piers
When I walked out in my sister's floor-length gown, all eyes were on me.
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala Best Blog Award
Here is what I said:

Four years ago, my husband and I were sitting in our living room in small-town Iowa.
It was cold and snowy. Our dog was curled up on the rug next to the fireplace and we starred at each other. 
Our hearts were broken. We felt defeated. 
We had spent years aching to become parents; begging God to somehow make the injections and uncomfortable procedures work. 
But they never did. There was no explanation.  
So on that cold winter day – after years of grieving our inability to have biological children – we made the decision to start the adoption process
At this time, I was a news reporter – chasing stories during the day and telling them at night. Off camera, though, our infertility struggles were a secret. 
And – in typical journalist fashion -- I wanted to share our story.  
I came out of the infertility closet in a blog called “This Family’s Journey.” 
Six months later --  I called my news director because I wasn’t going to work – we were hopping a flight to meet our daughter.  
When Olivia was 18-months old, we got another call. And with twelve hours notice, we brought Kendra home from the hospital.  
I finished out my contract at the local NBC affiliate and decided to stay home. After all, motherhood was something I had dreamed about for so long.
I continued blogging, though; and when Kendra was just seven months old, I had the pleasure to share with thousands of readers that -- to our total surprise -- I was pregnant
(Yes, we have three daughters ages three and under...our house is loud and crazy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.)
In all seriousness, though, I am honored to accept the HOPE Award for Best Blog
As a journalist, I can say that our family’s journey is my favorite story I’ve ever told.
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala Best Blog Award
To the RESOLVE organization that serves and supports families like mine, to the thousands of you who have followed our family's journey through infertility, adoption and pregnancy, to my amazing husband and our families: THANK YOU for this tremendous honor.
RESOLVE Night of Hope Gala NYC
I am humbled and grateful my family's story has touched and inspired so many of you.

One final note: RESOLVE is a vital organization for people struggling with infertility. I hope you'll consider joining the the #GiveItUp4RESOLVE campaign or simply donate by clicking here. Your tax-deductible financial contributions will provide services and support to help families beat infertility.

Photos: 5th Avenue Digital Photography | NY, NY

Related content:
Why I'm Walking Away From TV
Powerful Photos of Us Meeting Our Daughter
Our Journey to Addison

11/15/2016

Thank you, Infertility.

To Infertility:

Years ago I hated you, but now I’m grateful.

Thank you for making my marriage stronger; for showing me I could survive even the hardest days.

Thank you for helping me get over my fear of needles; for throwing my humility out the window.

Thanks for changing my heart; for breaking and reshaping it to appreciate even the most chaotic days of motherhood so much more.

Thank you for teaching me that sometimes when things appear to be detours in our lives, they simply lead us somewhere better than we could have imagined.

My life hasn’t turned out the way I expected, but it truly has turned out better because of you.

With gratitude, I thank my loving husband Chris, our supportive families, wonderful friends and loyal blog readers at ShelleySkuster.com.

Related content:
An Exciting Update on 'Best Blog' Award
Hope Award Nominee: What An Honor
I Wish I Knew How Much I'd Miss Being Pregnant

11/09/2016

What I Want My Daughters to Know About America

It was 2 a.m.

We were laying in bed wide awake with tears rolling down our cheeks.

On the opposite end of the house were our three daughters, snuggled in their footy pajamas innocently sleeping soundly in their bedrooms with books scattered all over their floors. They were oblivious to the message the world just sent us about our family and its worth.
What I Want My Daughters to Know About America
Yet four hours later, the sun had somehow risen.

"Mommy! Daddy! I'm awake!" announced our three-year old.

With bloodshot, blurry eyes, my husband and I shuffled down the hallway and into their bedrooms for our daily hugs and "Good morning" song.

We filled sippy cups with apple juice, poured oatmeal flakes and milk into neon-colored plastic bowls and punched up the microwave for a minute-thirty.

Together, we finished our breakfast at the dining room table as if it was a normal morning.

Except in our hearts, we knew it wasn't. It was the Wednesday after our fellow Americans sent a loud message of hate and intolerance and bigotry toward people like my daughters.

Here's what I want them to know:

My dearest daughters...Your Daddy and I love you.

We love the skin you live in. Your birth families. Your heritage. Even if America thinks less of you because the amount of melanin in your skin -- we know better. 

We love the potential you have as young girls growing into intelligent young women. Your fierce personalities already shine, and your confidence radiates from your beautiful smiles. Even if America thinks less of your capabilities because of your gender -- we know better.

We love your abilities. And your genuine acceptance of others who have disabilities. Even if America thinks it's okay to mock those who are different than us -- we know better.  

We love your inquisitive minds about God and your faith. At the same time, we recognize you may choose to believe differently than us. We accept whatever religious or non-religious path you choose for your life. Even if America fears those who aren't Christian -- we know better. 

We love your pure ability to embrace others regardless of their sexual preferences or gender identities. We also recognize you or your friends may grow up in the LGBT community, and that's okay. We love you for who you are, and always will. Even if America devalues people in same-sex relationships or those who identify as transgender -- we know better. 

We love the friendships you pursue with those who are different than you, including those who speak English as a second language or whose families immigrated to this place we call our home. Your curiosity and willingness to learn and celebrate their cultures is admirable. Even if America wants to send them away and build walls instead of bridges -- we know better.

You -- my three beautiful daughters -- have a place here. In our home, at our table and in this country. You will ALWAYS have a place here.

Our neighbors, our brothers and sisters -- our America -- knows better. And only when we know better, are we able to do better.

To my friends and family of color: I love you. You belong here.
To my LGBTQ friends: I love you. You belong here.
To my Muslim friends and non-Christian friends: I love you. You belong here.
To my friends who immigrated or sought refuge in this country: I love you. You belong here.

While I am heartbroken by the silent compliance of those around us -- those too politically proud to denounce the misogyny, racism and bigotry in their affiliations -- I stand alongside those of you suffering today with love and solidarity. You belong here, and you are not alone.

---

Note: If the darkness is too much of a burden for you right now, please talk to someone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is free and confidential: 1-800-273-8255.