A story of giving the gift of a child through adoption, and my own journey of infertility.
I think this may be a story that very few people can tell in their life, there will be moments that many will be able to identify with or have been through, but there is this magical thing about being human in that no two humans have the same story, we all go through a life that is meant for us and only us. Our happiness and hurts our only ours. We may share moments in time with others in joy and sadness but how those pieces that come together that tell my story is mine alone. This post is just an outline of key moments in my life that brought me to the family I have now. There will be stories and posts about these moments in more detail, but here you will find the short story or highlight reel of my life events.
So let it begin.
When I was 1.5 my father left for good, I never saw him again. When I was 4 or so my mom remarried to a man who in moments was this amazing father, he had high and low points from the very beginning, carrying his own demons he had no idea how to control, he turned to alcohol and later prescription pain killers to manage the pain inside and out. In true addict fashion his dissent into something much more dark and sad was steady, year after year, the high moments became fewer, the low points even lower. Under the stress of it all I sometimes felt like I lost my mom too.
Fast forward 10 years, I am 15 years old, lacking self-esteem and needing love and affection in the most desperate way. Then I met the boy of my teenager dreams and he liked me too. Being a teenager and having raging hormones on top of all the other things, our relationship progressed as things do. At the time I did not have a relationship with my mom where I felt comfortable talking about sex and also had the bulletproof attitude of teenagers, which somehow resulted in not always use protection, so it should not have been a surprise to me when shortly after my 16th birthday, it became clear I was pregnant. This guy was out of my life by the end of June.
So here I was alone, and not telling anyone I was pregnant. It was between me and him and his new girlfriend so when they were gone, I didn’t talk about it which lead to denial. Somehow after the morning sickness subsided I was able to convince myself I was not longer pregnant and avoided thinking about or admitting the changes that were happening in my body until September, when the movement was undeniable. Even then I dressed to hide it when school started, and started the Ringette season at the end of September as per normal.
I had this thought it my head that I would be able to continue to hide this, and just go into labour, and walk away from the hospital a couple hours later, and leave them to find a home for the baby. Noe one else ever knowing. It sounds horrible, I know. This is the mind of a scared 16 year old with an unpredictable and violent father at home. Ultimately I did finally find the courage to tell my mother if you can call it that, it was more of a crying mess admitting to my mothers worst fears. After the dust settled she found me a doctor and an adoption agency, pulled me from school due to “mono” and I sat in my house waiting for the baby to arrive. I found the perfect couple with such clarity, I saw their picture and knew they were for my baby, that was the easy part. My heart just knew.
I was induced on a cold day in December. I had a baby boy, who I snuggled and cherised for just one night and one day. Well every bone in my body begged for me to nurse him, and claim him as my own. I didn’t and two days later that amazing couple took my baby away. They are the kindest and sweetest and have loved and cherished my baby for 19.5 years, yet “took” is the only word I have to describe the feeling from that day.
The sadness and loss was buried deep and never handled, my mom wouldn’t have known that I needed or should have been forced into getting help for thoughts she never knew I had. I covered up all those feelings with teenage activities and friendships, graduated high school and as time progressed the wound festered and it started showing up in typical ways. Self hate, abuse of my body and soul. But that is a story for another day.
So fast forward again another 10 years. I had withdrawn from my birth sons life so that I could heal or try to forget, I am not sure, all I knew is every time I saw him I left feeling that intense sadness. I had bandaged my heart enough to stop the self hate and abuse towards myself and accidentally met my husband, when I wasn’t looking, we got married at 29, and we started not avoiding having a baby a year or so after. At 31 we started actively trying and by 32 we were diagnosed with male factor infertility. The year of negative tests month after month were explained, but the denial of our ability to have a family didn’t. I beat myself up daily over these couple of years of trying and failing, believing whole heartedly I had done something to deserve this, or it was the family curse. That if I hadn’t given up my chance to be a mom at 16, then this wouldn’t be happening. I was depressed and when I should have been learning to take care of myself better, I was eating everything in sight and losing myself to this single thought.
At the time we were first diagnosed infertile(not to mention the 3 month wait to get into be diagnosed), the last place I wanted to end up was in a fertility clinic doing IVF, let alone for two rounds. So we started working with a Naturopath, which in case you were wondering is a slow process, the whole healing the body thing took lots of time and money. In the end I lost patience with the process, we are talking almost a year later so I think we did pretty good, and we jumped forward into IVF.
Now I am not sure if you have ever had to stick yourself with needles, or run to your car every day at 4 pm so you can stick yourself with needles. Or better yet, before you stick yourself with needles go through weeks of down regulating your hormones so they are at nothing when this starts. Going in to basically menopause while having to travel and work and keep up some normalcy to life. Then the needles start and your hormones rise every day, which is a good thing because those eggs start to grow, yet when you mix those hormones with this anxiety and fear, and worry, and then with hope and expectancy for the future things get a bit crazy. My poor husband is all I can say.
To say the least, I emotionally didn’t handle our first IVF cycle well. And that’s ok. I did the best I could with what I had. The day the beta came back at 0 though, that was the moment that takes the cake. I physically had no idea how I could go on, how I could ever pick myself back up again and keep going. I was broken. The days past and life did keep going even though I wasn’t OK for a long time and I still mourn the loss of our single embryo.
The clinic said our only option would be donor sperm at the cost of over $15,000 and it was very likely that it would work for us our we were mainly male factor only. Chances of success aside, it wasn’t an option for my husband, and let me tell you that was not what I wanted to hear. At this moment, remembering how hard the and heartbreaking the first cycle was, he wasn’t even willing to try without a donor. He was going to protect me from myself. The day we confronted this information and processed it as a couple was the single hardest day in our marriage, I saw no way through together if he wasn’t willing and on this day divorce was on the table. I needed to be a mom with my entire being, no matter how much love I had for my husband, giving birth and raising babies was not a negotiable in my heart.
Somewhere in that really messy time I saw a post about IVF in Prague, not only were they using more advanced techniques to work with male factor issues, they were cheaper by half. We could have a European vacation and do IVF for the same price as doing a cycle here. And reading about all of the things they could do to find just the right sperm I asked my husband to try one more time. I am not sure if it was Prague or his love for me but he agreed. We decided we would only try one more time if we gave it our all, and did all of the things anyone has ever said to help fertility. Bring on vitamins, supplements, keto diet with autoimmune thrown in, no beer or anything off plan until the day of his contribution. I am talking I went completely A Type on fertility, I made a binder of every test and result we have ever had, made lists of what we could eat in a day, and filled pill containers of vitamins every week.
In Oct 6 2017 we got on an Airplane and flew to Prague. On the plane ride I said to my husband, best thing that could happen is we come home with 2 babies on board. I can’t even begin to explain the difference in our two rounds of IVF, this second round was balanced with annual inventory in my stores at work, finding ultrasound clinics to do my scans and blood work drawn, and once again giving myself injections daily in my car at work. I somehow mostly felt hope and excitement, keeping the worry and fear at bay much more. And then when we got to Prague we stayed so busy seeing this amazing country where you had almost no moment for you brain to stop and worry, and when your head hit the pillow it was ready for sleep, and when you woke up there was a plan for the next fun and interesting thing we were doing, Then for the 1st time ever on retrieval day, my husband had normal sperm, not lots but enough, and on transfer day when we had two almost perfect embryos, I knew they were our twins. And when I felt each one of them implant over the next few days I smiled.
I knew they were with me on our flight home, I made it less than 24 hours after landing to test, so 5 days past 5 day transfer I got my first BFP. And my second, third, and fourth. I tested daily to make sure the lines were progressing and they did. And my beta came back so high, I was justified in my belief there was two. And when they both showed up on the ultra sound I was so happy to see them but I was not surprised. There was my Ethan and my Everly.
My pregnancy was a roller coaster, there were ups and downs which is another story for another day. I had a c section at 37+5 weeks, and even then my adoption story still haunted me with the anxiety and drive to take my babies home. I didn’t understand it at the time, but in the moments holding my babies in the hospital, there was still this part of me that didn’t believe I was going to get to take them home. I couldn’t let them leave my sight and I had to fight the impulse to run away with them.
As my husband drove us away from the hospital I burst into tears. These were my babies and I get to take them home, they are mine to love and to care for, to be there for all their cries, to wake in the night to soothe them, to be their comfort and the one that they call Mommy. I didn’t cry when they were born and I didn’t understand why. I didn’t understand till this moment actually. Even after all of the struggle and challenges, then carrying them for 9 months, my heart was still guarded until that exact moment, when I was finally able to leave the hospital with these two tiny beautiful humans; my heart allowed me to see that I was their Mommy. I stared at my babies, squeezed their little hands and I cried.