Two makes a family

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Zoe loves to climb “anything, anywhere,” her mother jokes. The sociable 3-year-old with a headful of curls has a mind-boggling memory for details, loves puzzles and possesses a penchant for analyzing everything. She’s busy with dance classes and swimming lessons and gymnastics, and the first thing she asks when she wakes up in the morning is, “What are we going to do today!?

Zoe has a zest for life that her mom, Tracy DeMatteis, can’t imagine now living without. She is also the little girl Tracy was told she’d never have.

Like so many women, Tracy, a loan officer who lives in Scarborough, tossed around the idea of parenthood in her 20s and 30s. She absolutely adored her two nieces and spent lots of time teaching them the things she loves—like skiing, tubing and other outdoor adventures—but was on the fence about having her own. Besides, she hadn’t yet met “the guy,” the person she imagined she’d fall in love with, marry and have kids with. It simply hadn’t happened. Still, at one of her regular check-ups, she asked her doctor about her chances of getting pregnant—she’d had some medical issues when she was younger—and received an ominous reply: “When you’re ready to get pregnant, let’s talk about it.”

She was still in her mid-30s and single—there was time to worry over fertility later. But by the age of 42, knowing full well how time works against a woman’s reproductive biology, Tracy knew she couldn’t put it off any longer. In truth, that window might have already closed.

Her gynecologist ran some rudimentary tests. A few days later, the doctor called with the results. “I was sitting at my desk,” says Tracy, “and they just blurted out, ‘You’re never going to have kids.’” The voice on the phone continued on, even discouraging her from seeking help at a fertility clinic, but Tracy’s mind was reeling.

“I cried my eyes out right at my desk,” she says. “I was picturing my nieces’ faces and just thinking, ‘I’m never going to get to see the face of my own child.’ I was so shell-shocked. I was frozen.”

And what had been uncertain now became crystal clear and heartbreakingly out of reach: Tracy longed to be a mother. But it wasn’t going to happen. Not in the traditional way, at least.

This new reality weighed heavily on her for weeks. Wanting to clear her head, she and a friend climbed Maine’s Tumbledown Mountain, and at the summit, the tears came again in a wave she couldn’t suppress as she pleaded with the world, “Why me? Why is this happening to me?”

The grief went on like that for two months. Then suddenly, Tracy woke up one morning and thought, “What am I doing? I’m not going to let one person’s diagnosis decide the rest of my life. If a friend told me all of this, I’d tell her to get a second opinion.” So Tracy got a second opinion.

Tracy made an appointment with Boston IVF, which has a location in Scarborough and had more comprehensive tests done. “I was told that, on my own, I had a zero percent chance of getting pregnant,” says Tracy. “With IVF, I had an 11 percent chance of getting pregnant and a 9  percent chance of giving birth. It’s better than zero, but still pretty low.”

There was also another issue to consider. Even if the technology worked, should she have a baby on her own? How would she manage single motherhood emotionally and financially? What would other people think? What would her child think?

And most importantly, she continued to ask herself, do two people make a family? And would she regret it forever if she didn’t at least try?

Amid all the questions, a memory returned to her, a recurring vision she’d started having recently, of herself on a beach, playing with a little girl. There was no man in the picture. It was just the two of them. To Tracy, it felt like a sign. There was no more time to waste.

Soon after her 43rd birthday, she began the process of choosing a donor (she was drawn to a donor who was a lot like her—healthy, into fitness, supremely good at math, similar ethnic background and with green eyes), daily hormone injections to prompt her body to produce eggs and regular visits to the clinic. Four fertilized embryos were transplanted. It was a long shot that the first round of IVF would be successful. Tracy said she didn’t let her brain wander too far down that path because she didn’t want to be disappointed. But 10 days later she was on the phone with the nurse: She was pregnant. “I felt like I was going to pass out,” she says, “The joy set in later.” And on Jan. 6, 2014, at 4:42 a.m.,Tracy gave birth to a baby girl, Zoe Rachel DeMatteis.

“When she was born, it was as if I‘d always been her mother,” says Tracy. “You‘re at peace, like this was meant to be. And of course you’re completely overwhelmed.” Tracy slept little in those first months, waking four times a night to feed, change and calm Zoe. But she didn’t think to complain. “I’m just grateful that I have her. Even sleep-deprived and all of that,” she says. “She’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

“There’s never going to be a perfect time” to become a parent, Tracy says. But time could pass you by waiting for it or thinking you have to follow a traditional process or have all the answers ahead of time.

Tracy doesn’t have all the answers—like how Zoe will feel about how she came into this world or who else might come into their lives in the future—but she’s certain about some things. Her little girl is so, so loved. And two people do make a family.

Shannon Bryan is the editor of Maine Women Magazine. She lives in South Portland and is always up for an adventure.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1485443535443{background-color: #ededed !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”MORE IMAGES OF TRACY & ZOE” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:18|text_align:left|color:%23000000″ google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1485443336106{margin-bottom: -20px !important;margin-left: 20px !important;}”][vc_media_grid gap=”10″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1485443344360-6641f4da-c2ee-4″ include=”6019,5210,5212,5217,5218″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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