Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Grant Recipient Story



Hi…my name is Laurie and I’m infertile. My story could be a sad one because I don’t have the happy ending yet. But I’ve chosen to not see it that way.

Still single and 37, I decided that it was long enough to wait for the husband. I moved forward with trying to have the baby. If the husband happens, great. If not, life will go on. I couldn’t accept the same attitude about a baby and becoming a mom.

My doctors knew immediately that there might be a problem trying to get pregnant, but they were very optimistic that fertility drugs would solve what nature wasn’t doing correctly in my body.

At the appointment for my first IUI, my doctor even asked me if I wanted to skip the month, because I had so many mature egg follicles. “Are you prepared for multiples?” It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t get pregnant that first time. I didn’t.

For three years, I did everything possible to get pregnant – fertility yoga, abdominal massages, acupuncture, meditation, shots, vitamins, drinking black-strap molasses and eating only “warm” foods.

Three years later – after six IUIs, six IVFs, one IVF with donor eggs and one miscarriage – I was emotionally spent. At that point, I wrote the following in my journal:

My uterus is the place where healthy, viable embryos go to die. There is no other explanation. It really is the only explanation, and honestly, it's what I have to believe or I will think that there is something more I can do, something else I can try, when really I have to believe that I've done all I can and it's time to move on.

From that point on, I began my journey in international adoption, which I have discovered can be as unpredictable as my own body. What originally started as a 12- to 15-month wait has turned into a 22- to 28-month wait.

While I am hopeful that an adoption from Ethiopia will still work out, I cannot count on it. The instability and uncertainty in the Ethiopia process have convinced me to be more proactive in pursuing my dream to be a mom, and I have recently started the necessary steps for domestic adoption.

And so as I said at the beginning, this could be a sad story. But I choose to not look at only the things I’ve lost – the chance to carry a child – but also the things that I’ve learned and gained.

I’ve learned that I’m stronger and more stubborn than I ever thought possible. I am infertile. But I am also invincible.

I’ve learned not to take it personally when my siblings and close friends don’t ask how things are going. That perhaps because infertility and adoption are foreign concepts in my family, they don’t know what to say for comfort and support. And I’ve learned which friends are there through thick, thin and tears.

I’ve gained a circle of friends who, without this experience, I wouldn’t have met. Strong, amazing women who have been through the same struggles, who have the same fears I have.

I’ve gained patience. Tremendous patience as I waited for the next cycle of fertility drugs to start, waited the 16 days for the blood test, waited for background checks to come in and paperwork to be filed, and most importantly, as I wait for my child.

And every day, as I still think about what I’ve lost, I think more about what I have to gain, what I have waiting for me down the road.

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Laurie works in the Office of Marketing Communications at Ithaca College. She loves books and baseball, and can't wait to turn her child into a Yankees fan. She is a recent recipient of a Parenthood for Me grant.

Thank you for sharing your story.

*image provided by Jeffrey Schlaefer

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Feeling Life


I had never felt a pregnant woman's belly. I never wanted to be one of those people that feel the need to invade a pregnant woman's space. But touching a pregnant belly and feeling the growing life inside has been too painful for me. I never asked to feel a baby kick or see if I could feel the feet pressing themselves up against the uterine wall. These precious moments touched too close to my inner loss and pain.

When there are sonogram pictures, I briefly glance but not long enough to see the growing life. I am brought back to the pictures we have of our three embryos on day 3 of their life. The only life we created together. Embryos that did not survive.

When my friend became pregnant, I told her I wanted to live vicariously through her and learn about her pregnancy. I gave her my What to Expect... book. She would fill me in on what was going on month to month. It was nice to hear her speak of this monumental experience in her life. I pushed through my feelings of loss and separated the conversations into her experience, having nothing to do with my lack of experience.

Nearly every day my thoughts turn to infertility. Sometimes the thoughts are of acceptance. Others I cry my eyes out. I have prepared myself for these moments of acceptance and grief knowing that they are a part of my life.

Another good friend is pregnant, and for the first time ever I asked her if I could feel the baby. Through weeping eyes I explained that I had never touched a pregnant woman's belly. I wanted to know what it was like. Even if I never touch my own pregnant belly, I want to understand the miracle of pregnancy.

This moment was a rite of passage for my very long and painful experience of infertility. I was proud of myself for opening my mind and not allowing my own grief to make me lose out on being involved in loved one's pregnancies. The process has been an evolution.

Nearly 7 years into trying to conceive I am still learning and growing. I continue to try and focus on all that wonderful things in my life and accept that pregnancy is not something in my life's plan. However, my boys are a dream come true. I cannot imagine who I would be if I was not an adoptive mother. For every loss and sad feeling that overcomes me, I look at my son and smile. His hugs can cure all and his smile makes everything better.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Wait Game for Adoptive Parents

My husband and I are adopting again and waiting for our son to come home from S. Korea. We were matched on February 14. Just like the first time we adopted, the phone call telling us we would be parents to a baby boy came unexpectedly quick and was a thrill beyond belief.

We were warned that the wait time for this adoption would be longer. There is a lot of paperwork and processing through both governments to get the baby cleared to leave their birth country and bring them to the United States. We are anticipating his arrival in December. However, we are also preparing ourselves for delays.

When we were matched with Min in November 2007, the anticipated arrival time was four months. March came and went along with his first birthday and Mother's Day. The delay was excruciating. We just wanted to meet him and have him in his home. His room was all ready, the toys were put together, clothes all washed and in the dresser. Finally on June 3, 2008 we met our son for the first time, and all the months of waiting washed away.

This time around I have tried to parallel the adoptive parent's wait with a pregnancy. The anticipation of the birth of a baby's is similar. As the months go on anxiety builds and everyone just wants the baby to be born.

Adopting internationally offers a different type of wait because our son is alive, thriving, and making many milestones that we are not there to witness. We have a few pictures but hardly any details about his progress. We know he is being well taken care of and that does help, but it is hard thinking of him every day wondering what he is doing. Baby Wee turned one May 10. He will be about 18 months when he comes home.

Min is very excited about being a big brother and he mentions Baby Wee almost daily. I cannot wait for him to have his brother home. I know he will do a great job and help make our little son's transition home easier. Min is very loving and always wants to help. He will embrace his new brother and teach him things. Seeing their relationship is one more reason why the wait this time seems more difficult.

Time always flies by in hindsight. We have many things to do around the house in preparation for a baby to be here. We have to paint the boys rooms. Min is moving to a "big boy" room and Baby Wee will have his current bedroom. I have to wash all of Min's baby clothes and reassemble the crib. The baby gates are somewhere in the attic along with the pack and play.

It will be amazing to get all of theses items out, dust them off, and see our Baby Wee in our home forever.

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