Founder, The Fantasy Box and Babyvine
Husband: Andrew Morris
Lives in: Davis, CA
Born: March, 1977
Fur Babies: Ollie (French Bulldog), Britta (German Shepherd), Jackson (Bengal Cat)
Mariah is the cupcake-eating champion of her business school. She ate 16 cupcakes in 2.5 minutes.
Can you start out by telling us about you and your family?
Absolutely! Andrew and I met later in life- I was 37 and he was 42. We met on eHarmony. We’d both been married before and discussed having a family on our first date since it was a deal-breaker for both of us. I’d given him my full name before our first date with the assumption that he’d Google me and find out that I run The Fantasy Box…but as I came to find out later…he’s not as addicted to technology as I am. Hahaha. I am talking away on our date assuming he knows and at one point I said “did you Google me before our date”…and he was like “nope.” So, I told him, and I was lucky that his response was “That’s so awesome.” We’ve been together ever since. I came with a dog, he came with a dog, the cat adopted all of us. :)
We’re really close to our families and are lucky that everyone lives close to us (within about an hour drive). We’re still working on bringing home our first baby. It’s been a long road but we are not giving up. You can hear all about it on the Podcast if you’re curious. :)
What was your journey to have a family like? Any issues you had to overcome?
Oh yeah. It’s actually what led me to found Babyvine. I’d spent most of my life trying to not get pregnant and I run a company that helps people make babies. Hahahaha. I actually only went online dating one more time because I was about to become a single mom by choice and was waiting for my appointment with the fertility clinic. When I went to see them, the doctor was like “Well, let’s just check how your fertility is doing now.” I was floored- I had no idea that you could actually test for this stuff ahead of time! The tests came back that I was on the extremely good side of things- AMH of 6.2 and an antral follicle count (how many “resting” eggs were sitting in my ovaries for possible stimulation that month) of 27. She told me with those numbers, we could try on our own for a while. So we did.
We’d basically get pregnant about every 5 months and have early losses. Eventually it became too much emotionally so we went back to her (our Reproductive Endocrinologist) and asked for help. She said that since we had “unexplained infertility” the assumption was that it was an issue with the chromosomes due to my age and, thus, the only way to improve those odds was to do IVF (in-vitro fertilization) with PGS (pre-implantation genetic screening). So we did that.
We got super lucky and had 29 eggs retrieved, 21 mature, 19 fertilize, 12 sent for testing and 5 came back perfect. We transferred one and she stuck and we thought we were home free…until week 7 when she was diagnosed with “small gestational sac syndrome”- meaning the amniotic sac around the baby was a week behind where it should be. We lost her at 15 weeks and because it was second trimester, it required a D&E (dilation and evacuation surgery).
Well, it turns out that surgery ruined my ability to grow an endometrial lining that was thick enough to support a pregnancy. So, after a few months, we attempted another transfer and it didn’t take. After being in a very dark place for a while, I went out and started researching surrogacy. I met our surrogate, Vanessa, in a Facebook “independent matching” group (where you don’t use an agency) and just knew it was right. We are a great team and got from meeting to transfer in less than 3 months! She got pregnant on the first transfer but unfortunately lost him at 12.5 weeks.
We’re still working on what’s next…but we’re committed to bringing home Baby Morris, one way or another!
How was/were your pregnancy(ies)?
I’ve been pregnant 5 times- the first four never made it past 8 weeks so I only got a bit of morning sickness. The last one I had virtually no symptoms, which is massively anxiety inducing. Hahaha. Hopefully if I get pregnant in the future (I am still holding out hope I may be able to carry at some point), I will be sick alllllll the time. Hahahaha.
What does your average day look like?
One of the great joys of my life is not having to wake up at a set time. Some days I get a call from the birthing center and jump out of bed at 4am, other times, I sleep in until the sun wakes me. I love starting the day with a mug of coffee and ending with a glass of wine and quality time with my husband. I love movement and try to have a daily run, walk or yoga class, as well as some time for quiet reflection and meditation. I manage my businesses from home so my “work wardrobe” is mostly athletic wear and comfy dresses. For me, this is living the dream.
I am a total birth nerd and I listen to the new episodes of The Birth Hour, read books (which are part of my lending library for doula clients), attend workshops and chat with my fellow doulas (and my IVF sisters).
And, of course, while these are not a part of my daily life yet, I am a little bit obsessed with baby wearing and cloth diapering.
What does your ideal birth look like?
I’d love to deliver in the birth center I volunteer with. It is the perfect blend of a home birth mentality with access to immediate expert medical care for those rare emergent situations. In addition to having the lowest c-section rate in the nation, Sutter Davis Hospital births are attended primarily by midwives, the nurses are the sweetest women you will ever meet. Their entire philosophy is centered on the mother and baby and they offer support with tools like birthing tubs, essential oils, rebozo birthing shawls and more. Birth is deeply transformative and a woman’s birth experience shapes her forever. To have found a birthing center inside a hospital that empowers a woman to experience the immense power of normal, natural birth in my hometown is, well, amazing.
That said, I’m a fan of any birth that keeps mother and baby safe and together. I am definitely not anti-epidural- it’s a wonderful tool in long labors to allow rest and renewed energy. I am also a major proponent of breastfeeding but carry no judgment for those who do not have that as part of their plan. In fact, if we build our family through surrogacy or adoption, I’ll be inducing lactation so I can breastfeed (yes, that’s a thing), and supplementing with donor milk or formula as needed.
What advice would you like to share with other moms and moms-to-be?
There is always a next step. You might think you’ve hit the end of the road, but it just means you might need to be flexible about what success looks like. And, of course, enjoy every minute of your pregnancy, no matter how long it lasts.