When you are 22 years old, fresh out of college and starting your new “adult” life, the last thing you want to hear from your doctor is “if you don’t have a baby now, you probably won’t have one at all.”
First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…
This is my story. When I was 22, only 6 months into my relationship with my boyfriend, I was given this news. I spent a week in the hospital recouperating from an invasive surgery where it was discovered that I had severe endometriosis and uterine fibroids that my doctor said would leave me more and more infertile as I aged. I certainly was in no rush to have children, and Scott (boyfriend at the time) and I weren’t even sure if we were ever going to get married, much less have a baby together! We both had a LOT of growing up to do.
Obviously, time passed, my body healed, and I remained on hormonal therapy and treatment to prevent worsening of the endometriosis symptoms. Life went on; we got married, bought a house and got a dog that we spoiled rotten. We both knew that we wanted to travel and have some life experiences before we even started to consider having a baby. We both also knew that starting a family would be a difficult journey and one that we would have to approach with grace and patience.
I always coped with my infertility by telling myself “I don’t need children to be happy. I have my husband, my dog, my family and my health.” Then all of our friends began announcing their pregnancies. I was overjoyed for them and excited to welcome their babies into the world. While also feeling great happiness for these friends, though, my heart hurt because I knew I would never know what it was like to be pregnant and experience the joy and love of holding my very own precious baby. With each new pregnancy announcement, I had such mixed emotions. I was filled with happiness and joy for those friends, but at the same time, I also felt jealous and inadequate. I’ll be honest, too. Sometimes, I really wanted to just avoid any social situations when those friends with kids were present because it made me think of what I would never have.
My heart didn’t just ache because of my infertility. My heart ached because I felt like *I* had failed, that somehow, my infertility was my fault and that I was failing my husband by not giving him the option to continue his bloodline. I constantly felt like I had failed as a wife and even moreso as a woman. When well-intentioned friends and family would say things like “if you would just relax, you would get pregnant” or “maybe if you stopped trying so hard it would happen,” it made those feelings even worse. I knew their hearts were in the right place, but it didn’t make it hurt any less and sometimes it made it hurt even more because I knew relaxing or “trying too hard” had nothing to do with my infertility. All I really wanted was to have someone hug me and not say anything, but just listen.
Fortunately, I had a family member who also struggled, and it was a blessing to have her in my life to help be that ear and shoulder. I also hung tight onto my coping mechanism and started to tell myself: if we don’t have any children, we’ll be okay, all while feeling like I had failed miserably at the one thing I was supposed to be able to do as a woman.
After four years of trying to start a family on our own without success, my husband and I made the decision that we definitely wanted a child and that is was time to – well – “___ or get off the pot,” as we were not getting any younger.
…A really long struggle for a baby in a baby carriage
After watching a friend and a close relative struggle with several unsuccessful IUIs, IVFs, Clomid, etc, I just KNEW I did not want to go that route. I knew that my heart was not strong enough endure the drugs, treatments and emotions without having a guarantee. We also knew that neither of our health insurance companies would cover any fertility treatments, thus leaving the full financial and emotional burden of it on our shoulders and bank accounts.
One day, as my husband and I watched the news, we saw a commercial featuring Scott Fujita. He told his story of how he was adopted and encouraged others to consider Catholic Charities of New Orleans. Scott & I both looked at each other at that moment and said “let’s apply.” And so we made the phone call, found out that we had one week left to send in the initial application (the adoption process has more than one “application”) and after we told our families at Christmas, we sent in our application on December 27, 2009.
We were VERY fortunate that we had the means necessary to apply to Catholic Charities and consider adoption. We were also very lucky that after the initial interview, background check, etc, we were extended a formal adoption application. We spent most of 2010 in this process. We took classes, read MANY books, created a biography, scrapbook and got recommendations. We met with other couples who had adopted or were in the process with us. What was really amazing about the whole process honestly was how much we learned about ourselves, how we discovered how much we truly loved and respected each other and most notably, how much we wanted to welcome a child into our family. We knew we were definitely ready to take that next step and become parents.
Once we completed our home study, we waited patiently for the call. You know, the call saying “Hey Andie & Scott, we have a baby for y’all!” because, in the adoption process, that’s pretty much how it can happen. You can get a call on a random Wednesday morning while you’re going through your TPS reports and realize: “Holy Crap! I’m a mom!”
Of course, we had just finished our process and we knew we could very possibly have a year or so before we got placed with our own baby. We had everything in place. We had our money saved for the placement, our home study was done, and we just waited. In fact, at my biannual checkup with my doctor, we even discussed scheduling a hysterectomy since he knew that we were adopting, and I had been so miserable over the last 10 years.
One of the other couples in our adoption “class” got a placement right before Christmas, and Scott and I both said “wouldn’t that be awesome if we got a call soon? That would be a great gift!” but we figured we would probably be waiting at least a year before we got a call for placement.
Our Christmas Miracle
Except we were wrong. Christmas came, and I realized that I wasn’t “on time” which, honestly, wasn’t out of the ordinary. In fact, at my checkup, I had my hormones checked because I hadn’t been “on time” for a while. I honestly thought I may be starting perimenopause (as I am in my mid-thirties)! In fact, I realized I was about a WEEK late. I had cramps, I felt bloated, so I figured, hey, it’s just waiting till after Christmas and it will come in a few days.
Naturally, I called the husband to tell him to come home. As soon as he walked in the door and saw me hovering near the bathroom, he smiled really big. While I was cautiously optimistic, he stayed firm and happy and confident that this was our very special Christmas gift. Coincidentally, I found out I was pregnant on December 27, 2010, exactly one year since we mailed in our initial adoption application. In our family, we believe that it was a Christmas gift from my late MIL (who passed away in 2009) who knew of my fertility troubles and was a great support system to me during some hard times.
What I do know, though, is that it was the greatest Christmas gift of all that keeps on giving.
I am grateful that we were able to release our adoption application to extend the opportunity to another family facing a similar struggle. Infertility is a battle that is certainly harrowing and can put an enormous strain on relationships, the heart and mind. Every day I am thankful I had support from family and friends when I was in my darkest moments. It was that support and love that helped me stay positive on the difficult journey that led me to my special blessing. When I hear of others’ struggles with infertility, I always hope that they are blessed with their own special gift whether through treatments, adoption, or through a blessing such as ours.
If you are struggling with infertility, there are support resources. RESOLVE is a national organization with an active online community. Currently, there is no local group available to New Orleans residents. It is my hope that through the New Orleans Moms Blog, those of us who have had difficulty can possible come together to offer each other support whether through email, a local meetup or even by developing new friendships.
Did you or do you struggle with infertility? What resources do you find helpful when coping with infertility? Do you have interest in being part of an infertility support group?
If you do have interest in being part of an infertility support group, please feel free to comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.