Today I write this post as a way of recollecting the memories, trials, and triumphs of our journey to growing our family. I write this not out of any need for pity but more out of the desire to journal our path and in hopes that it might provide hope to someone else embarking on a similar one. This post may be tough to read for some and may resonate perfectly with others. So here it goes…
To be completely comprehensive – we would have to back up to childhood – I have always known since I was a very little girl that I wanted to be a mother. I knew to my vary core that I would be a mom and I would have children of my own one day. It wasn’t something that was up for negotiation – motherhood was in my DNA and all parts of my life would fall into place to make that happen. When it would happen? no idea. Although growing up, as many little girls do, I always said I wanted to be married and having kids by the time I was 27. When you are a kid- 27 seems so “adult”. When you are 27, you just feel like a kid that is pretending to “adult”. Nevertheless- the goal line was 27. If you know me, I am a serious ‘goal’ follower – goal lines are the minimum to me and I run as hard and fast as I can until its achieved. So let’s start off with that as a base line. A determined, hard fast desire to bring to life the very essence of my being – motherhood (plus all the other stuff that comes with life 😉 ).
At 15 I met the love of my life. We met in high school as friends and over a casual lunch table conversation decided to make those “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” titles official. I will admit that at the young age of 15, when my mom told me I couldn’t have a boyfriend yet, I had know idea I was answering “sure” to the man that would stand by my side through so much, become my husband and ultimately the father-to-be our children. We talked and dreamed about one day starting a family – how we would want to parent, the things we wanted for our children and when we would ultimately start on that path. At 23 we got married and I will never forget the feeling of pure joy, happiness, and just feeling invincible to what the world had to offer. My wedding day was the happiest day of my life – at the top of the mountain – with nothing to lose. We made it. We were married and our life together was starting. Now for the fun part…. building a marriage and children.
Many people say the first year of marriage is hard and undoubtedly it is. Learning to make decisions not for how they will only benefit you but ultimately how they benefit your spouse is a tough lesson to learn. Thinking for a unit and a family vs thinking for selfish desires is not always second nature. Nevertheless, we adjusted well and life was grand. We had a solid foundation, a solid marriage, and love for each other that made our transition into married life virtually seamless. We had nothing but joy and the world at our feet. The future looked bright and we had every reason to be happy.
In March 2014 – a devastating loss impacted our family. A beloved uncle, brother, son, friend and all around incredible human being passed away suddenly. My relationship with my uncle was closer than many and I looked up to him for career advice, life advice, and just family companionship. He taught me to view life with gratitude and to never settle for less than you can dream for. I spiraled into depression and into a realm of emotional unsettlement that I did not know was possible. Remember that mountain I was on top of on my wedding day? Well the way I envision it is those cartoon scenes where someone stands on the ledge and the whole things cracks and they fall straight down to the bottom of the ravine. I had a whole lot of climbing to do to get back to where I was. All our life plans were put on hold as we worked to navigate through this period of grief.
Luckily for me, I have the world’s greatest husband and even through the countless nights of hysterical tears, emotional outbursts and nights where the only sensible things to do was hide on the floor in the closet crying – he stood by my side and we pressed on.
In February 2015 – 3 years ago today – we decided we were back in a place emotionally that we wanted to start growing our family. I remember it like it was yesterday. Driving home back from lunch we decided there was no time like the present and that having children was going to be scary no matter what age we were. So we decided. We were “trying”. Naturally, I read every blog, bought every book, and downloaded every app to make sure we were doing it the right way with the utmost efficiency. (as I write this I realize how absurd that sounds. ha!) Months went by, ovulation tests became obnoxious, temperatures became obsolete, and yet.. no baby. Month after month pregnancy tests showed up negative. I began to dream what my reaction would be should one come up positive. Slowly I began to not even test – the thought of seeing another negative test would surely tear me apart. I was still rebuilding my emotions from losing someone so close to me – surely God wouldn’t be making me experience this kind of loss too. I wasn’t ready – I wasn’t strong enough.
12 months later – after watching everyone we knew get pregnant- I woke up one night in excruciating pain and was certain my appendix had burst. I couldn’t breath as every moment or thought of movement made it worse. I laid on the bed clasping my stomach fearing something terrible was happening. At this point, we decided it was time to visit the doctor and run some tests to see what was going on. Matt passed his tests with flying colors. However, for me, days and days of blood work, ultrasounds, drinking my weight in water only to sit in a Dr. office waiting room so they could view my pelvis for 30 seconds…. things looked normal, egg count was great, uterine lining was fine. So what was the issue?
Ultimately, the ultrasound revealed cysts in the ovaries and other growth tissue commonly associated with endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrial stroma and glands, which should only be located inside the uterus) is found elsewhere in the body. This can cause lesions, complications with fertility and ultimately a lot of pain on a regular basis. The cysts were small and probably only slightly decreasing our chances every month but hope was not lost. Our OB suggested that I have a hysterosalpingogram – which is fancy word for a test where they inject iodine based die into your uterus and fallopian tube and they take a million pictures to try to determine any blockage. If you google this test – its not a pretty picture. But I wanted a baby – so it was worth it and we went for it. As I laid on the table watching the monitors, watching the die float around, my stomach was cramping from the die and I had never felt so vulnerable. I laid there, alone, and watched what I hoped wouldn’t happen… there was tissue blockage in my fallopian tubes. There was no way for the egg to get where it needed to be and the chances of conception were extremely low. I held myself together as the technicians wrapped things up. I left the room with one of the most fake smiles on my face, met my husband in the waiting room, and broke down in the hallways of the hospital. My worst fear was coming true. Could I not have babies? Was my dream of motherhood a lie? Why was God letting me feel such a feeling a happiness just a year prior to only let these life events kick me while I was down over and over again. Why couldn’t I have my happy ending? Why was this happening to me?
Again – the depression set in. I sat at the kitchen counter that night crying and apologizing to my husband for being “broken” – for not holding up my end of the bargain. For not being able to bear his children and making him go through this with me. As I write this, I am tearing up again, a part of me will always feel that pain. I wanted to be a mother – I wanted to have children. And now I wanted it more than ever.
The doctor called to discuss the test results and we began discussing various options- surgery to remove obstructions, IVF, IUI, artificial insemination. All of the above. I felt lost as to what I should do, what order I should do things in, and where in the world we would find money for something like that. It seemed easier to give up. None of these plans felt right for us. We spend the next few months trying to take things one step at a time and focus on us. The last couple of years had taken such a tole on us emotionally that it was time take a step back and focus on ourselves and our marriage. We needed to be healthy again. After many conversations and many discussions regarding our options – I finally realized one thing…. I wanted to be a mother. I have always wanted to be a mother. I have always wanted to have children. But you know what…. I have never expressed that desire as “I have always wanted to be pregnant.” All this time- after all these years and all this pain – I thought God had abandoned me. I thought God had given me this false hope and instilled in me these false desires and false goals. I felt lost pining after pregnancy because no matter what way I looked – the doors were shut.
I realized that God never abandoned me. In fact, just as always – he plan for our lives is beautiful and one we won’t always understand. When I look back on the last three years- heck, the last 20 some odd years of my life – God gave me the strongest desire in the world to be a mother so that I wouldn’t give up when faced with infertility. He gave me the desire to be a mother so that I would know it was part of my identity. My desire has never to be pregnant. My desire has been to give my heart to my children. As my husband and I began to wrap our minds around our situation- we began to feel that calling. We began to see what door God had opened. Adoption.
With a marriage like ours, a husband like mine – strong, independent, compassionate, and devout – we had proven to each other over the last few years that our marriage can take it. We can take it. Just like I felt on our wedding day – we are invincible to what the world has to offer. We began to pursue the path of adoption and doors began opening wide. Swinging open left and right. I began to have thoughts envisioning our family – envisioning our children – and my heart warmed instantaneously. The world has so much to offer- both through struggles and through triumphs. We are matched for adoption expecting placement of a beautiful baby girl in June and we could not be more overjoyed. We are at the top of the mountain and this little girl has already shown us that there are more mountain to climb in the distance.
I recently heard a quote at a women’s retreat through our church that has stuck with me like crazy. “Everybody wants to reach the peak, but there is no growth on the top of a mountain. It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life’s next peak.- Andy Andrews” . Don’t underestimate what God is doing during your time of waiting. One day and one day soon you will be back at the peak of that mountain – you will look behind you and see the beauty of God’s orchestration and you will look forward to see the vast horizon you have yet to conquer. And then you will look beside you and see with the utmost gratitude everything that defines your happiness today.
And you want to know a little secret? One week ago today I turned 27 – expecting our adoption placement in June. Wouldn’t my younger self be so happy to know we hit our goal. Now for the fun part…..