A Powerful Message of Hope and Faith
After cancer treatment, she went back to work and re-dedicated herself to her sales career at Verizon. She built a home in Middletown, but unfortunately didn’t get to spend too much time there, since she was constantly traveling with her career. Work was incredibly demanding which also created a challenge in her personal life. After years of spending the majority of her time working, she found herself 37 and single. At that point, with fertility technology having advanced, she made the decision to freeze egg’s and embryo’s and move forward with her lifelong desire of becoming a mother. Shortly after she made that decision, she reconnected with Ode Pritzlaff, a former high school sweetheart. They had both gone their separate ways and while life had taken some difficult turns for her, Ode too had been through his own. After suffering a series of debilitating headaches, Ode was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent 4 brain surgeries. He had also gone through a separation with his wife and was in the process of getting divorced. Ode and Marybeth started out as friends but the connection was undeniable and they quickly fell in love.
That’s when she made the decision to sell her home to have money available, but since the house was built at the height of the NJ real estate market and sold during a downturn, she suffered a huge financial loss. While all of this was happening Ode’s medical condition worsened and they found out his brain tumor had become terminal, inoperable and fast-growing. The prognosis was two to four years. He immediately started chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Marybeth was numb from all that was happening, but kept it together for the sake of her future 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. 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. She held Thad as he bled out and eventually took his last breath in her arms. “My little boy that I always dreamed of, was gone. As you can imagine, I was beyond devastated but I knew I had to be strong for the sake of Jude and Ode. After spending 2 months in the NICU never leaving Jude’s side, I was told he was progressing well, and that he would go home at the end of December. At that point, I knew I had to deal with Thad’s funeral so left North Carolina for 1 day to travel to Middletown to make arrangements.”
“Once again, they let me hold our baby as he took his last breath in my arms. Due to Ode’s cancer treatment, we had to delay the boys funeral. Ironically, we wound up burying Jude and Thad together on June 7th, 2014… exactly 1 year from the day that we found out that we were having a child. After this horrific loss, I had reached a very low point and was struggling to make sense of it all. I had lost two children, I was forced to sell my home, I didn’t have a home as our rental had expired during our hospital stay, I spent a good portion of my life savings the cost of having my children via surrogacy, my sons’ funeral, and hospital bills. On top of that, there was the loss from my home and also a loss that took place a few years prior when Verizon (former MCI) filed bankruptcy.
During the time that Jude was fighting for his life, I was demoted by Verizon and then shortly after burying my sons, I received a letter telling me NOT to come back to work. I was fired. It seemed like almost every aspect of my life was turned upside down and on top of that, I was madly in love with a man who had terminal brain cancer and was given 2-4 years to live almost a year prior.
My life felt meaningless and I felt lifeless- Once I came out of the fog of all that had happened, almost a year later. I realized that I could not lose Ode too. That’s when I got out of bed and we started looking for effective treatment options. We worked with doctors around the county getting Ode’s medical records to the right people. Even though there were no changes in treatment since we buried the boys, luck finally visited us and Ode’s tumor stopped growing and by the grace of God, has not grown since. At that point, we decided to try for another child. We were turned away for adoption due to Odes’ health condition and I think because we were both out of work, so once again we opted for a surrogate pregnancy. Thankfully, we found a beautiful gestational surrogate and we were on our way to together becoming parents again. We wanted to be married before our child was born so on May 28th, 2016 I finally became Mrs. Pritzlaff. Less than 10 days later, on June 7th, 2016 our daughter Carrington Grace was born (3 years from the day that I found out about becoming a mother, and 2 years from the day that we buried our sons) Unfortunately, we went through a lot after Carrington was born as NJ was not a Surrogacy friendly state- yet together we got through that battle and I am happy to report that things are now different in NJ for families trying to conceive via gestational surrogacy. Over the years, our lives have taken some pretty dark turns, we have lived through the depths of sadness and heartache which I never thought that I could recover from. However, I was wrong. Although I miss our sons more than words can describe, I am grateful that I had them and I would re-live every second over again just to experience their love. Since our loss, not only have learned to smile again but we have experienced miracles, blessings and tremendous happiness through the birth of our daughter and the love of our family. As long as we have each other, we have everything we need.”
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A. “Over the years I have learned home is not where you are but who your with. I’m blessed to have a strong FAITH, an incredible FAMILY and the most beautiful FRIENDS. That is my heart and my home!”