We waited about 9 months or so, then began testing to determine why we hadn't been able to conceive. It turns out there wasn't a reason, we were perfectly healthy, and that we were among the 10% of infertile couples (who number 1 in 6 nationally) with unexplained infertility.
So we did three cycles of Clomid + IUI (intrauterine insemination), and when that didn't work, we moved on to two cycles of injectibles + IUI, and when that didn't work, we did IVF in November of 2005. We were incredibly lucky that it worked on the first try, making us parents to Isabella. In March of this year, we did a frozen embryo transfer, and as you know, it worked again.
In the maddening and gut-wrenching world of infertility, my journey to motherhood was a relatively easy one, although I sure as hell didn't think it was while I was waiting. Sure, some women get pregnant after their first round of Clomid, but many more endure years of treatment, their emotions pinballing through the optimism-despair rollercoaster ride of every new cycle.
And even then, after years of IVF and FET, procedures and surgeries and new treatment plans, they still cannot conceive. It is the ultimate "F-you" from the universe. Many move on to the equally exhausting adoption path, a process that can take years, and much like infertility treatment, it's one without any guarantees.
But this post is the story of one longtime infertility blogger whose journey into the center of Dante's Circle of Infertility Hell ends with her emerging triumphant.
The lovely, the amazingly supportive, the kind and compassionate, and the incredibly talented Beagle, who endured five long years of waiting, has become a mother at last. On Saturday, she adopted her two-day old son. She is ecstatic. He is gorgeous.
I cannot think of a more deserving woman to finally have her happy ending. Beagle has been an incredible support not only to me, but also to countless other bloggers waiting to become mothers. And she offered her shoulder to cry on, her sympathy, and her words of encouragement all while enduring her own struggle. She is the true embodiment of selflessness.
Won't you stop over and congratulate the new mom?
I graduated in 1994, 14 years ago. I didn't attend my 5-year reunion, nor my 10, because I still see the majority of my closest friends from high school. Two of my closest friends then are still my closest friends today. The photo was taken at my senior ball. (Please ignore my unfortunate selection of a white prom dress. It was knee-length. It had lace. Hence the reason I'm not showing you the bottom half.) The girl in the center has been my best friend since we met in first grade. The girl to her left and I have been friends since freshman year. And there are several others from high school whom I still count among my friends now.
The rest? I couldn't possibly care less about, although I do have a degree of curiosity about what became of some of them. In my sophomore year, I had a crush on a boy whose family raised peacocks in their outer-suburb home. I'd like to know what happened to him.
In my Catholic high school, I was an "activities" girl. I was co-editor of the school newspaper, and used my position to write about topics of importance to me, namely animal rights. I was a Peer Ministry leader, which meant I led senior retreats, organized community service programs, and acted like the bigshot I wasn't in front of the other kids. I was so good at this "job" that I received an award for it at graduation, along with the senior award for English, which apparently meant I wrote well (and not good).
On my high school graduation day, I had been accepted here. I entered as a second-semester freshman with a major in English and a minor in Pre-Law. I knew I wanted to become a lawyer until about mid-way through my first semester, when I realized that my love of literature and words outweighed my love of law (but not my love of a good debate). I ended up completing the minor anyway.
As a high school senior, I was certain I would change the world in a meaningful way. It wasn't that I was extraordinary. I was a good student, but I had to study hard to get my grades. It was that my mom always made me feel as if anything I wanted to accomplish was within the realm of possibility (Fulbright Scholar in Mathematics excepting).
Sitting where I am today, I'm not sure I accomplished what I thought I might as I was leaving school 14 years ago. Obviously, I'm not a lawyer (although I still have a small desire to someday go back to school and become one), and I'm not the world-renowned writer I thought I'd become once I left college. I have two college degrees, and yet most of the time I feel like my brain cells are dying a slow death from lack of intellectual engagement. I suppose this is what several hours a day of rolling Playdoh will do to you.
But I do have a pretty fantastic kid whom I've been blessed to be able to watch grow. To miss not a single one of her milestones. To watch her change from a helpless baby into an independent little being. And to have a chance to take on writing assignments that aren't the essays or novels I always thought I'd pen, but which do challenge me from time to time.
And I wonder how many of my former classmates are now exactly where they thought they would be when we all graduated. I would guess, not many.
Maybe the old adage is true after all:
It's not the destination; It's the journey.
Thanks so much for all the great name suggestions. There are some definite contenders in the list, and I'm sure I'll have another post on the name debate soon. Stay tuned!
If we had remained in the dark about what was between the legs, we'd also be put in the position of "ranking" each gender's names. In other words, we'd have our "first choice" of a complete girl's name and a "first choice" of a complete boy's name. We would have to drop our second choice names in the event we ended up with a boy/girl combo. This is altogether way too much math for my English major brain, so for this reason and others, we decided to find out what we were having.
Knowing we're getting one of each (at least according to the last ultrasound) has simplified things. Of the four names we need, we've settled on approximately one: the first name of the little boy. It is the name we had picked out at the last minute during my first pregnancy, had Isabella been a boy. Baring any last minute substitutions, my son will have the name Nicholas.
The girl's name is posing a bit of a problem. I adore the name Lucy. It's short and sweet (unlike Isabella) and also unlike the name of my first-born, it hasn't been in the top five list of girl names for the past four years. There's only one problem. The hubs doesn't really like it.
He is more fond of the alternative I suggested: Lucia (pronounced Lu-cee-a). Does this sound familiar to you? Long-time readers might remember that I originally wanted to name Isabella Ella. Once again, the hubs wasn't a fan, and suggested we name her Isabella, and then I could call her whatever the hell I wanted. And while in the early days of her life I would refer to her on this blog as Ella, the name never really caught on. Now, we don't call her as anything other than Isabella.
So, here's where you come in. As much as I love Lucy (you never would have guessed I was that clever, eh?) and would settle for Lucia, I'm open to suggestions. Got four boys and closing up shop but still holding on to that killer girl's name you never got to use? Let's hear it! Pregnant sister-in-law steal the name you have picked out for your yet-to-arrive little one? We'll probably never meet IRL, so let me steal it too!
If you happen to suggest the name we end up picking, I will come up with a fabulous gift and send it to you. Of course, we're about to start dining on Ramen Noodles and tap water starting fairly soon here, so the giftie might be a homemade production...courtesy of my cats...but let me assure you that despite their geriatric state, they're actually quite talented in the domestic arts.
What are you waiting for? Name my kid!
Baby girl, if you only knew what's on the way...
Thanks for kind responses to yesterday's post. My fragile little ego thanks you as well. I don't think I'm quite at the Violet Beauregard stage yet. I mean, I have to leave something to complain about for the next four months, right?
Alas, I am not one of them.
My complexion is an absolute wreck. My upper chest and back have broken out in a stunning landscape of zits. You could fit a Happy Meal inside the pores on my face.
I swear to you that my boobs are bigger than they were when my milk came in just after Isabella was born. I started this pregnancy with a B cup. I am now a D cup. On a good day.
Oh, and I'm not only carrying twins in my belly, but also in my ass as well. It is spreading. It is not pretty.
Ready for the photographic evidence?
We'll begin with a little comparison.
Here I am at 18 weeks pregnant with Isabella in 2006. I didn't even tell my manager at work until I was this far along because I didn't need to. I barely looked pregnant.
And here I am now at 18 weeks. It's the Boob-Belly Combo That Ate Manhattan. Hide your children and toy poodles.
Yes, I know it's ridiculous to compare a first pregnancy to a subsequent one, where the uterus is already stretched and begins to expand much more rapidly than it did the first time around. I also realize it's silly to compare belly sizes between a singleton pregnancy and a twin pregnancy because, hello? Double the babies and other assorted substances in there.
But I can't help it. I'm not going to post comparison belly shots each month, and yet I am fascinated by the differences in my body from one pregnancy to the next.
Coming next month: A sneak-peak at a little poem I'm working on called "My Wide-Angled Lens and Me."
Favorite new phrases of the month include "I'm busy," which she whips out with annoying frequency when I ask her to do something for me, and "Mommy, watch THIS!" as she attempts feats of varying degrees of difficulty.
She's developed a staggering grasp of the obvious, and will now exclaim, "I'm running now!" or "I'm hiding now!" or "I'm singing now!" as she's (you've guessed it) running, hiding, or singing.
She can pick out, name, and draw a pretty decent circle when asked, and trust me when I tell you that this "Stick-Figures-Are-A-Serious-Challenge" girl isn't exactly holding a Drawing and Painting class every morning. She also can identify and name a triangle, but oddly enough, not a square, which seems both easier to pick out and easier to say.
From observing her crayoning over the last few months, and having watched her feed herself for quite awhile now, it seems that Isabella is definitely a leftie. I know this can't be officially determined until around age three, but it's obvious she prefers using her left hand to her right. I'm not left-handed and neither is the hubs, so I'm really curious how this will impact her learning to write, cut with a scissors, etc.
This next new development is one that's causing me serious angst. She's having sleep issues. Big time. For the past two weeks, she has, without fail, started crying hysterically the second I put her in her crib for the night. Since she was born, I'm rocked her for progressively shorter lengths of time, and since she turned about 1 or so, I've read to her, rocked her for 10 minutes, and placed her in the crib awake to put herself to sleep. This has worked great, until recently. She begins to cry and generally stops after about 5 minutes or so. I'm praying this is a phase.
Current Likes: Playdoh, swimming, doing the NYT Sunday crossword puzzle
Current Dislikes: Peas, diaper changes (bring on the potty)
And then a friend sends me this article about twins, which has made me simultaneously terrified and royally pissed off.
The author, a mother of twins (born "spontaneously" and not as the result of fertility treatment) rightly describes the challenges of raising twins: the sleepless nights, the very real health problems resulting from premature birth, how even a quick trip to the store with two same-age toddlers can quickly turn into mass chaos, how everything associated with caring for a child requires double the effort. She talks about her isolating post-partum depression following the birth of her sons. Having two babies at once isn't all round, sheer-draped cribs, nursery chandeliers, and beatific well-rested newborns as most of the world sees the "twin phenomenon" depicted in magazines by the recent spate of Hollywood twin mothers. For this part of the article, I respect her candor and her honesty. This kind of writing takes guts.
But here's where things turn South. The majority of her article is spent lamenting the burden twins have placed on Massachusetts, the state with the highest rate of twins in the nation, its hospitals, school districts, and even its sidewalks (twins require massive space-hogging double strollers, of course), and her personal life and budget. I get the "I miss my old life and the former state of my bank account" argument. Truly, I do. But the author seems to find nothing redeeming at all about having twins. It's this part of the essay that really scared me. Will I feel about my twins as she does? I say "no way" now, but the possibility is there nonetheless.
And then she takes IVF to task, and as I began to read this part of her essay, my blood pressure started to rise.
The author, along with several doctors she interviews for her article, advocates single-embryo transfers to reduce the chance for twins, triplets, or more, and to alleviate the myriad and far-reaching potential problems caused by a multiple gestation. Now, in theory, I agree with her. Would I prefer to be pregnant with a singleton right now? Yes. Am I terrified about the potential health problems my babies may have if they're born prematurely, as many twins are? Definitely. Am I worried that we'll have to sell the naming rights of my children to a major corporation (meet my twins: iPhone and Netflix) in order to afford to raise them for the next 18 years? You bet.
But here's my problem with her argument: Massachusetts has the highest rate of twin births in the nation because it has comprehensive and mandated insurance coverage for infertility treatments. I'm lucky in that here in NY, I didn't have to start auctioning off platelets and vital organs for cash until I hit IVF, the cost of which came entirely out of my pocket, but many infertile couples in the nation have to start paying out-of-pocket at the IUI stage. It's quite easy for a Massachusetts resident who would have been afforded the luxury of multiple insurance-paid IVF cycles should she have been unable to conceive naturally to contend that IVF should be restricted to single-embryo transfers.
When I reached the IVF stage, I was afraid of having no babies, not one or two too many. The hubs and I would never have opted for a single-embryo transfer during either one of my IVF cycles, given the enormous cost, and the rigors of injections, drugs, ultrasounds, bloodwork, and procedures involved in a typical cycle. For us, that option was never on the table. And so, now that I'm pregnant with twins, we adapt to the hand we were dealt when we sat down at the table to play. We wanted the best possible chance at one baby, which is also the goal of every fertility doctor working today. Contrary to the author's argument, I believe ethical doctors don't try to create multiple gestations to boost clinic success rates.
And her argument that the "twin problem" in Massachusetts will "overburden our medical and special education systems, and quite possibly require either cuts to other programs or tax increases to help pay for their care" seems callous and cold-hearted. Is the subtext here a message to infertile couples to continue on their gut-wrenching path to parenthood with never-ending single-embryo transfers, instead of boosting their odds with a multiple-embryo transfer, because the author doesn't want higher taxes?
This author makes several valid points in her article. Twins or triplets or more aren't a walk in the park for many, many reasons. I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared at the prospect of having my babies. But while I believe her words were exaggerated to generate interest in her article when she said she "would no more wish multiples on a couple than I would bubonic plague," I think she desperately needs to come to terms with her situation. Yes, it's hard raising twins. Yes, parts of it suck. Yes, health problems are traumatic and awful. And yes, it's expensive.
But doesn't this describe parenting a single baby too?
Because of this, I didn't have scores of friends to hang out with whenever the mood struck me, and frankly, I liked it this way. Unlike my husband, whose current circle of close friends is larger than the number of friends I have had throughout my entire lifetime, I have always preferred to share myself with a select group of a few people. It's a purely selfish motive on my part, really. If I'm going to invest the time in developing our friendship, I want the relationship to last. I'm not in it for the short-term, which explains why my best friend and I have know eachother since First Grade, some 26 years, and why my two other closest friends have been parts of my life since 1990, our freshman year in high school. I still talk on the phone about once a week to a friend I've had since Kindergarten who now lives in a distant state. As their friend, I am fiercely loyal.
Perhaps this is why Sex and the City appealed to me from the start when it debuted on tv in 1998. For those not familiar with the show, it centers around four very different women living in New York and chronicles their journeys through relationship and professional successes, heartbreak, medical problems, bad hair days, and horrifically embarrassing moments. Through it all, their friendship remains steadfast and unwavering.
I saw the movie on Saturday, and while I took issue with some plot-points, I loved it overall. But heading into the theatre, I wasn't sure I would. So many reviewers had given the film negative ratings, and with so many of them using the term "anti-feminist" to describe it, I had my concerns.
In addition, several letters to the editor in my city's newspaper slammed SATC for setting back the women's movement for the way its main characters were portrayed. These writers felt that the movie advanced the idea that women are vapid, self-obsessed, materialistic shopaholics who only care about themselves and eventually, about finding a man.
I find this ironic. Isn't one of the chief complaints leveled at feminists that we're cold, selfish, power-hungry shrews looking to advance professionally no matter what the cost? Just look at the treatment Hillary received from the media. And yet SATC, the story of four NYC girls having a blast amidst the crap of life with nary a single discussion of gender politics among any of the characters, is anti-feminist?
I didn't find the film anti-feminist at all. What I saw was four intelligent, attractive and very different women who have been friends for over a decade and who despite all that life has thrown at them remain devoted to each other. In fact, I think that this sums up what feminism is all about: devotion to the sisterhood bond and the respect each gives to the lifestyle led by the other three. Miranda is a lawyer and a mother who works full-time. Charlotte is a wealthy SAHM. Samantha is single, successful, has no desire for marriage or children, and loves the thrill of the chase more than anything else. And Carrie is a best-selling novelist with a fabulous collection of shoes. I won't give away her marital status here so I stick to my "no spoilers" intention.
Four different women. Four different paths. No judgement. Fierce loyalty.
This is feminism personified.
Yesterday, I received a mysterious package from Barnes and Noble in the mail. It was a book: Raising Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care. But for a good hour after it arrived, I had no idea who sent it. There was no sales slip included, or so I thought. I emailed my mom and then later my sister. Neither had sent it. I then paged through the book and finally discovered the sender.
The book's sender was Lisanne, my blog's talented designer.
Now for a little background. Prior to about a year ago, my blog's design was standard Blogger fare. I wanted to personalize it a bit, and asked for some suggestions of companies or individuals who did this kind of work. Shannon recommended her friend Lisanne, whose own blog sports ever-changing and unique designs, and I contacted her to inquire about her rates. She said she would not charge me to redesign my blog because she simply enjoys playing around with design software and images. She redesigned my blog for free. And though we've never met "in real life" she was able to capture exactly what I envisioned for my blog. I sent her two books I thought she would enjoy as a token way to say "thank you" for her work.
Fast-forward to this year. I wanted to update the photos of Isabella in my blog's header, but of course had absolutely no idea how to do it on my own. I contacted Lisanne again, and she said she would be more than happy to add new photos. And she did.
Lisanne included a note on the book's sales slip apologizing for taking longer than she expected to complete the new header (which, mind you, she was again doing for free). She has her own freelance business and two small children at home with her all day long, and yet she found the time in her insanely busy schedule to help me out. She unselfishly gave of her valuable free time (and as a mom who works from home, I know all too well how incredibly precious this time is) with nothing to gain.
And she sent me a book because she thought it had taken her too long to complete the work.
It's moments like these that restore my faith in the true goodness of people. The gift was completely unexpected, and completely unnecessary, and as I told her in my thank-you email, she was the one doing me the favor, not the other way around. This was a book that I've had on my wish list at an online retailer that I shall not name. (Here are the details concerning why, if you're interested.) I use the retailer's wish list feature as a way to quickly keep track of the books or products I want to buy elsewhere. But the bottom line is that this is a book I've wanted for awhile, even though Lisanne had no way of knowing this.
So, thanks, Lisanne and Melissa, for making me realize that amidst the muck of every day life, there are people like you in the world who make it so much more bearable for people like me who tend to doubt that your kind exists.
*The Kindness of Strangers is a great song by the very under-rated indie band, American Analog Set. Check out the tune here.
This reaction has surprised me quite a bit. If the arrival of the twins creates an "instant family" then what, exactly, did I have before?
Didn't I achieve "family status" once I entered a committed relationship with my husband? There are many who believe a family isn't a real "family" unless a couple has children. I think otherwise.
Didn't I enlarge my family once my daughter arrived? Apparently, some of my friends and relatives either didn't think I did, or else thought it inadequate in size, prior to the twin news.
I never wanted a large family of my own. I have lived in an extremely close (often too close) large extended family my entire life. Almost every single one of them will walk across hot coals to help just about every single other member. They have lavished me with love and support in its various forms since the day I was born. They now do the same for my husband and my daughter. But at times, we all pay a price for this closeness.
My immediate family was a small one (although with my mother's various marriages throughout the years, it often grew temporarily with the addition of step-brothers and step-sisters). I have one full sibling. My parents divorced when I was very young, so my daily life didn't include my father. Two has always seemed like a good number of children to have. Two is affordable and manageable, with time enough to spend one-on-one with each of them. Each child would have one sibling. And most importantly, the parents are not outnumbered.
But I'm now in the position of having the "big" family, the so-called "instant family," I never wanted. Of course, I will fervently love the twins as much as I love Isabella (even though that's hard for me to imagine that now), but the definition of what constitutes a family is still a puzzling one for me.
Is having two children still considered a small family in this day and age? Is having one (or zero) children not considered a family at all?
Why is it that "family" is a label that only seems to apply to a big (apparently, this means more than two children) family?
In your opinion, what creates a family?
The photos that formerly made up my blog header were all taken about one year ago.
Last June, Isabella looked like this. She had barely a wisp of hair. She was still nursing, still commando-crawling, and was toothless (and she continued to be until she was 15.5 months old).
This June, the little she-devil looks like this.
As I'm slowly getting used to the idea of welcoming two more babies into this house in the fall, I've realized that whether she's 10 months, or (almost) 22 months, or 22 years old, she will always be my first-born. She will always be my baby.
It's long been a dream of my daughter's to try out for American Gladiators. I've worked hard developing a training schedule for her, so four days a week, you'll find her practicing The Wall.
Isabella is all about the disappearing act these days. Hiding her face behind a pillow, crouching behind a table and then telling me she's hiding, and especially hiding her hands in the sand.
Swinging allows Isabella's comb-over to blow in the breeze, loud and proud.
And of course, what's (almost) summer without a little Ultimate Etch-A-Sketch?
But at the end of the day, Isabella is a word nerd, just like her mother. Her energy level may appear to be that of a toddler whose sippy cups are full of Red Bull instead of milk, but when all the outside fun and games are over, she likes to bury her head in the newspaper and bitch about the sorry state of the world we live in. At least we have this in common.
So much of what I've heard and read recently tells me yes, he will.
This article in the June issue of Parenting speaks to this point, and frankly makes me a little worried about raising a boy. According to the article, boys are harder to discipline and keep safe, are not as adept at girls at communicating and have more limited vocabularies, and have a tougher time in school. Of course the article ends with the conclusion that while boys are more of a handful early on in their lives, girls are more of a challenge starting in their preteen years. But frankly, waiting 10+ years for the "challenge" of raising a son to lessen is more than a little frightening.
Before becoming a parent, I used to believe that all little kids were essentially the same, that they were blank slates at birth and as they grew, their behavioral differences were due solely to individual parenting methods.
Now I realize that's not so. Boys and girls are different.
It's not that I'm exceptionally girly and can only relate to the typical "little girl" playthings of dolls, tea sets, and coloring quietly for hours on end. In fact, I have some pretty strong beliefs about what toys and activities I plan on limiting or altogether excluding as Isabella grows up, and most of these fall into the "accepted girl play" category. That's a post for another day. But I am a pretty cerebral person. My favorite things to do with Isabella are reading books, doing small craft projects, and basically anything that turns down her volume for more than 5 minutes at a time. Will my son like these type of things? I'm not sure. Boys' brains are wired so differently.
My main fear is that because I know so very little about the way boys' minds work that I will fail miserably in raising my son the way I want to.
Don't get me wrong. I have many friends who have kind, well-behaved, emotionally mature, and very verbal sons. In no way do I believe that all boys can be painted with the brush described in this article, because I know little boys who simply don't fit into the "boy" mold it details.
But one particular event has stuck out in my mind since I learned one of the twins was a boy. Isabella was about 18 months old, and we were visiting an indoor play area with a sandbox similar to the one at the Strong Museum. Isabella was sitting in it and playing with a toy truck when a mom and her 3-year-old son arrived. He played by himself for awhile jumping around the box and throwing sand, then decided he wanted Isabella's truck. He took it right from her hands, and the mother, although watching him do this, said nothing. I looked at her, expecting her to tell her son to give back the truck, and instead she said, "Boys are just different."
Was she excusing his behavior because he was a boy? If so, what was she really saying: that boys are more active, aggressive, and demanding? Is this what the world expects of boys?
Parenting plays a huge role in the development of both boys and girls. But what happens if I cannot relate to my son and his innate and even normal boy behavior because of my inexperience or lack of understanding?
Only time will tell. Until then, if you can recommend a good book or some words of advice on raising boys, I would really appreciate it.
At age 5, I started kindergarten and the first of 13 straight years of Catholic school, where the punishment for swearing was either public stoning, drawing and quartering, or the rack. Needless to say, I shelved "Shitdamn" away for home use only.
Once I graduated from my Catholic high school, I went away to a state school for my undergraduate work and left my puritanical and extremely sheltered childhood behind me. I also left my pure-as-the-driven-snow mouth behind too, because once I hit college, I developed several questionable habits, among them a love of Manic Panic, drinking screwdrivers in massive quantities, and swearing. Lots and lots and lots of swearing.
While my hair is its natural and boring brown now and I'm off the sauce for at least the next six months, I still drop the four-letter words liberally. I can't help it. It's part of who I am now.
Coincidentally, swearing is a way of life for the hubs too.
But we also realize it's not the best habit to have when responsible for the development of an increasingly vocal and increasingly parrot-like toddler.
Can you see where this is going?
On Friday Isabella, the hubs, and I were in the car driving on the highway on the way to my brother-in-law's house. The hubs was considering passing a slow-moving car ahead of him. He decided not to and said, "F-it." Except he didn't say "F."
And from the backseat, sitting pretty in her carseat with an Elmo book on her lap and her sippy cup filled with milk in another came a high-pitched and chirpy little, "F-it!". Except she didn't say "F" either.
After the wide-eyed horror followed by the concealed and relatively silent laughter over what had transpired died down, we realized the days of milk and honey were now over. As hilarious as it is to hear a 21-month-old swearing like a drunken sailor, there's also something just not right about it either, which is probably why this video got so much flack.
Giving up caffeine is hard. Really, really hard. Giving up swearing is going to be even harder.
Now, for something on the completely opposite end of the parenting spectrum: The June edition of Root and Sprout is now live. I have several articles in this month's edition: one on my experiences making homemade baby food for Isabella, another on how to "green" a playroom, and a review of the book Mommy Wars. Check 'em out!
Want to write an article for Root and Sprout? Check out the writers' guidelines here. Everyone who submits an article is eligible to win one of two $25 prizes delivered as either cash in your PayPal account, or a Barnes & Noble or Borders gift card. Each article you submit is an eligible entry.