Monmouth News

Marybeth Walz Overcomes Tragedy to Realize Her Dream of Motherhood

600bcca3c6faf78355b5_1270.jpeg
Marybeth, Carrington Grace and Ode Credits: Walz
ed6f2a4c9b6e22ca1148_1273.jpeg
Marybeth with Jude the night they were airlifted to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Credits: Walz
f0fe62955bfb88f7cdfd_1274.jpeg
Marybeth Walz and brother Ed Walz 2 months after cancer remission. 2001, 30th birthday. Celebration of life surprise party.
f4e16741323823a9ac10_1272.jpeg
Jude Edward Lavery Walz: 2 months of age, Dec 19, 2013, 5 weeks prior to Jude's diagnosis. Jude was supposed to be born February 14, 2014. Credits: Walz
65a9f3eaf0426456e03e_1271.jpeg
Marybeth, Carrington Grace, Ode. During a visit back to NC to introduce CC to Don and Col (my sister inlaw who carried the my twin boys) Credits: Walz
7351df5aae63e6a99014_1276.jpeg
Chance meeting with Joe Biden whose son Beau had a similar diagnosis to Marybeth's husband Ode. Joe also spent time at CHOP with is daughter prior to her passing. Joe showed Marybeth great compassion.
30af0f44f5c19eb33081_1275.jpeg
The board of Hope for Children Foundation at the 2013 Beach Gala, Long Branch, NJ Credits: Walz
600bcca3c6faf78355b5_1270.jpeg

TAPinto Holmdel and Colts Neck in Collaboration with GritandSoul.

Stories of lives lived boldly...told from a mother's heart...

 

I grew up in suburban Middletown, New Jersey, one of four siblings born into a strict, working class Catholic family. After graduating from Kean College, I began a successful sales career at MCI and for many years that was my focus.

Sign Up for E-News

After several suspicious pap smears and reassurances from my doctor that everything was fine, I opted for a second opinion. At the age of 29, I was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer. I spent the next thirty days in frantic consultations with multiple specialists for additional opinions, but all the diagnoses and prognosis were the same. It was inevitable that I would have to undergo serious surgery that would preclude my ability to ever carry a child. I was devastated but, thankfully, had a compassionate oncologist, Dr. Thaddeus Denehy, who introduced me to the world of infertility, a world that would now become my life. One of the things he did was introduce me to Tara, a former patient. Among other words of wisdom, she told me, “buy the smallest bikini possible and get tan lines. Tell Dr. Denehy to stay within the lines when he cuts and to save your ovaries”. On July 2nd, after surgery, I awoke to Dr. Denehy telling me “you’re a pain in the ass but I stayed between the lines and I saved 1 ½ ovaries”. There was hope.

I went back to work and re-dedicated myself to my sales career at MCI. I became engaged and bought a home, however, the engagement was called off before the wedding. At this point, with fertility technology having advanced, at 37 years old I made the decision to freeze multiple eggs, along with sperm from a donor, so that I might still be able to fulfill my lifelong desire to have a child.  

In the meantime, I reconnected with Ode Pritzlaff, a high school sweetheart! We had both gone our separate ways and while my life had taken some difficult turns, Ode too had been through his own, having been recently separated. We began dating and quickly fell in love. Ode already had two beautiful daughters but was excited about the possibility of having a child with me. We made the decision to go forward with a pregnancy, and my sister-in-law Colleen made the extraordinary offer to be the gestational surrogate. In June, 2013 we received the wonderful news that twin boys would be due on Valentine’s Day, 2014.  

We were thrilled but our happiness was dampened when I found out that my employer provided no benefits for gestational surrogacy. Happiness turned to shock which turned to panic when appeals for coverage were denied and we were responsible for all costs incurred by the pregnancy. We made the decision to sell our house to have money available, but since the house was built at the height of the NJ real estate market and sold during a downturn, we suffered a huge financial loss.

While all of this was happening Ode, after a series of debilitating headaches, was diagnosed with a terminal, inoperable and fast-growing brain tumor. The prognosis was two to four years. He immediately started chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I was numb from all that was happening, but I kept it together for the sake of my family.

On November 19th, Colleen went into pre-term labor and delivered Jude (2lbs 4oz) and Thaddeus (2lbs 1oz). Although small, there were no apparent issues with either baby. In keeping with a promise I had made to Dr. Denehy, the boys were both named to honor him. Dr. Denehy was named after St. Jude of Thaddeus, by his mother who had prayed to the saint during a time of personal need.  

Thad was the weaker of the two boys and on a ventilator. When the decision was made to remove and allow him to breathe on his own, complications quickly arose. Although doctors made the effort to put him back on, the damage had been done and he died of a pulmonary hemorrhage while in my arms. We were devastated but knew we had to be strong for the sake of our other son, Jude.  

In the meantime, Jude was progressing well, and we were told he would go home at the end of December. I left North Carolina to travel to New Jersey to plan for Thad’s funeral. On the day that we were to have buried Thad, we were given the news that Jude had a rare and serious tumor in his abdomen. We were airlifted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and chemo began immediately. The situation took a terrible turn, and on May 21, Jude died of an infection.

I had lost two babies, been forced to sell my home, was heavily in debt and in love with a man with inoperable brain cancer. I had reached a very low point, took a disability leave from work and was struggling to make sense of it all. During the time I was on leave, I was demoted and then fired. I retained an attorney and filed suit against my employer and, as of this writing, there has been no resolution.

Once I came out of the fog of all that had happened, I realized how important Ode was in my life and the year after the loss of the boys was spent traveling around the country looking for effective treatment. Luck finally visited us and Ode’s tumor stopped growing. At this point, we decided we wanted a child.  We were turned away for adoption because of our financial and health issues so once again we opted for a surrogate pregnancy. On May 28th, 2016 Ode and I were married, and on June 7th, Carrington Grace was born. She is now a beautiful, healthy, happy one-year old little girl and the miracle our family needed.

Chance meeting with Marybeth and Joe Biden at the White Dog in Philadelphia during Marybeth’s time at CHOP. March 2014. Joe also spent time at CHOP with his daughter prior to her passing, Joe’s Son Beau had a similar diagnosis to Marybeth’s husband Ode. Marybeth was touched by Mr. Biden’s kindness and compassion. It’s her mission to reconnect someday and help his fight against this horrible disease.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, it was devastating for me but I had the financial and emotional support needed to get through. Because of my experience, I wanted to help other families that struggle with the issues that result from medical crises. I was determined to “do good after bad”.  Encouraged by a close friend, we worked together to create the Hope for Children Foundation of which I am Co-Founder and Executive Director. HFCF is a registered 501c3 comprised of a group of professionals, entrepreneurs and parents working together to raise funds to make a significant, positive difference in the lives of children. HFCF raises money that is used either to assist families directly or to support organizations that provide support. To date, we’ve raised over $3m for children and families in need. 100% of the proceeds for HFCF go directly to the cause.  

My life has taken many twists and turns and is so very different from what I imagined for myself when I was younger and envisioning my future. I lived through the depths of sadness through illness and death of my beloved sons Thad and Jude. Yet, I have also experienced tremendous happiness when I reconnected with love of my life and we were blessed with our beautiful Carrington Grace. Throughout all that my family and I have been through, we fought to persevere just one more day, one day at a time, because the alternative was to give up and I just could not do that. I still have issues that I’m passionate about and will continue to fight for. I experienced firsthand the inconsistent nature and difficulty of navigating surrogacy laws. I’ve also suffered from a workplace that did not support me when I needed it most.  

My sincere hope is that by sharing my story, I will give hope to others that there can always be some light that comes from the very darkest of days.  

Publisher's note: This article was written by Marybeth Walz and published by Grit and Soul. Click here for their website.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Holmdel & Colts Neck

Colts Neck Senior Citizens Organization: Welcoming New Members for Great Experiences

July 10, 2018

COLTS NECK, NJ -  Tuesday, June 12  was a beautiful day for the members of Colts Neck Senior Citizens. The weather was perfect and a wonderful outing was enjoyed by all.  We boarded the bus for a delightful ride to Long Beach Island, where the Surflight Theatre was the first stop.  The performance of “Nice Work If You Can Get It” was definitely “nice ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 25, 6:45 PM

Holmdel Public Library, Bell Works, Holmdel

If Only I Won the Lottery!

Tue, August 14, 5:00 PM

Monmouth Park, Oceanport

Handbags for Hope

Giving Back Other

Sat, September 15, 7:00 PM

Dearborn Market Green House, Holmdel

Dearborn Market Wine Tasting and Pig Roast

Food & Drink Giving Back

Letter: Candidate Calls for Transparency in Holmdel Government

July 20, 2018

 

 

 

Editors Note - All candidates are welcome to submit letters to the editor. 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

WHERE’S THE MONEY HOLMDEL?

I regularly attend Township Committee meetings.  Lately I’ve been asking for an update on the status of the financing for the Holmdel Library.  The ...

Sunday: Food, Wine & Walk: Get Your Tickets Now

July 20, 2018

Sunday August 19th Red Bank kicks off the second of four Food & Wine Walks where you can enjoy tastings from twenty-five of the best restaurants in Red Bank. 

This event is a blast!

Get your gang together and purchase tickets online! 

Take a leisurely 3-hour walk around town having a few glasses of wine and tasting the best of what our restaurants are ...

Obituaries

Jun 3, 1959 - Jul 19, 2018
Amy Moreau Feggeler, 59, Holmdel, passed away Thursday, July 19th. Amy spent her early life in ...
Read more
Sep 5, 1955 - Jul 16, 2018
Michael J. Arbolino, 62, Colts Neck, passed away suddenly on Monday, July 16th at Riverview Medical ...
Read more
Dec 8, 1943 - Jul 14, 2018
Eleanor D. O’Connell of Holmdel, NJ died at her home on Saturday July 14, 2018. Eleanor ...
Read more

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...