I learned what grief is.
And I learned that as deep as my pain and grief is, God’s Love for me is deeper still. And that you can only trust to the extent that you know you are loved.
And I learned how to be comfortable with others in their pain as I became ok with my own. I learned what the Father must have been feeling when he created me. And why everything in society and life comes back to Family. And all that has taught me to hope.
Six years and we are still in the middle of our story. You know what? I think it’s going to be a great one.
Every year my crazy big family gets together for a weekend and then we go to a water park or something. This year was Noah’s ark and it was hot and wet and fun. A big group of cousins were standing in line for our first slide and they are all loud and cracking jokes and full of excited energy just to be together even though it was the fourth day! I was at the back of the group and there was this little girl who slowly got closer and closer to the group. She even passed me to see what all the fun loud people were doing. She had a curious unaware pure spirit that if you judge too fast seems intrusive and a little in your space. I could tell she was a character so I asked her what other rides she had been on so far. She paused and looked confused for a moment and then told me she didn’t know. She turned and walked away so I thought our interaction was over. But a few minutes later she came right up to me and said that her dad didn’t know either. 🙂 I started chatting with her and I felt like Anne Shirley finding a kindred spirit. As the line crept up to the slide stair by stair our conversation lapsed.
“I was adopted.” she stated matter-of-factly. “My mom couldn’t have a baby in her tummy so I was her dream come true.”
I smiled and said that I’m sure she was her mom’s dream come true. I couldn’t believe that she had found me. Such a sweet, bold, innocent child.
“Are you a mom?”
“No, not yet.” I said.
“Well, do you know how to take care of kids?” she asked.
“Yeah, I was a nanny, and I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to take care of kids.” I smilingly assured her.
“Because not everyone knows how to take care of kids.” she replied soberly.
How did she find me?! To just announce the simple things she did, I felt like God had given me this moment with this little girl. She had completely made my day. My heart had been coming alive to adoption in the last few weeks and here is this little girl telling me how she was her mom’s dream come true. It was so sweet and unexpected. The whole rest of the day I was silently hoping and praying that I would run into them again and get to tell the parents that their daughter made my day. At the end of the day I got to do just that. We were heading back to our family’s pavilion and who is coming around the corner, but the little girl and her whole family. She walked right up to me and put her little hand in mine like old friends and asked me if the path we were on lead to the wave pool. God had answered my prayer. As I explained how their daughter had made my day, I told them all she had said and that we are thinking of adopting ourselves. They told me that they adopted all three of their children through the foster system.
It was so sweet the way she trusted me and put her hand right into mine. And it was a small miracle that they walked by us in a park of hundreds of people. I felt like I was given a small yet overwhelming gift. A true moment with someone who said the thing I needed to hear. I don’t have an exact plan in place for what we will do next on our journey to become parents but I have always wanted to adopt. Before I knew I would face infertility. So at this point I’m just listening and learning and reading as much as I can about it. It can take a long time, so I want to get started with a real plan soon. I just know that sweet hand in mine opened something in my heart that I had closed off for a while.
I got my hopes up.. again. I swear I tried not to but when it was four days past the usual start of my cycle, I woke up early and couldn’t sleep. I tried not to count the months and imagine the joyous announcing and relief. It was 4 am and I waited until my husband left for work around 6:30 and went to the nearest 24/7 walgreens that would be open on a sunday. I milled around the cosmetics trying not to head straight for the aisle I wanted to go.. picked up some bobby pins and panty liners I figured I could use them either way… and got the walgreens brand pregnancy test. I found myself gushing to the cashier way too much. And she wished me luck no matter what outcome I was hoping for. It was negative and I told myself that I’d wait a few more days and use the second one. I didn’t want to even tell my husband that I had bought one because he would tell me not to get my hopes up. And when he called asking why I had spent $20 at walgreens, he did. He understood and said that I didn’t have to keep it from him. But I just didn’t want to make it a big deal. Later that afternoon, right as we were heading out the door I got my period. I was numb and stuffed any feelings away as much as possible to make it through a family reunion. But today it all came crashing down and the aching hole in my chest found new flames. I have been learning guitar and all the songs I write are sad. I feel like I must be one of those people who you scroll down and try not to read on Facebook. I don’t mean to make others uncomfortable by talking about it all the time but I am sad. And I can only compartmentalize my feelings so much and so often. Therapy tomorrow. I hope it helps. Thanks for reading. It really does make me feel less alone to see people are taking the time. If you like, take a listen below.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to process through not being able to have kids. This was recorded on my iPhone and it’s not perfect but here it is.
It’s Not Too Late
I know I have been writing a lot about not being able to have kids lately. And I want to let you know there is more inside of me but this is in the forefront of my mind most days. I want to tell you that until the doctor said in January that he doesn’t know what’s wrong or how to fix it, I was holding out. Call it denial or misguided hope but this has just now become real for me. I want you to know that I’m grieving. I’m numb and depressed and in pain. I’m alone in my grief as we all are when it comes. It’s hard to not obsess when you feel you have the right. I want you to know that I’m angry. This was the one thing that I hoped I would never have to face. I remember the moment I was introduced to the idea that this could happen. I was four or five and I overheard my parents talking about how sad it was that some couple couldn’t have children. I was shocked. “That’s a thing?” I thought. “That can happen?!” I stopped and pleaded to God- “I can handle anything God but PLEASE don’t make me face that! Please!” You see, as long as I can remember, I just wanted to sing and be a mom. My mom says I used to sing to my baby dolls and pretend to nurse them like I’m sure I saw her drape a blanket many times. I’m the oldest of five kids. And babies run in my family. I have 27 first cousins- just on my dad’s side. And that’s before you start counting their spouses and their kids. And of all of them my grandma says I was the one who was always holding and loving on the babies. This is my greatest fear come true. So I’m afraid. Afraid that this is robbing me of the joy and hope I had for this stage in my life. Afraid that by needing space from being a childcare giver or baby shower attendee, I’m losing the carefree loving nature that is in me. This is changing me. And I’m afraid of what I’m losing. I just hope this season doesn’t last too long.
Don’t ignore that this is a very common story.
One in eight couples of reproductive age are affected by infertility. If that was you, wouldn’t you want to explore every possible option available to build your family? For many the cost and for some, the law inhibits their basic ability to become parents. As technology evolves so must we, in our understanding of what a family with infertility faces. The decisions you never thought you’d make. The questions you never thought you’d have to ask yourself. Like what is more important? Biology or parenting?
Don’t ignore the cost.
Have you ever had the thought that you cannot grow your family because it is too expensive? One cycle of In vitro Fertilization averages to be $12,400 and if your insurance doesn’t cover it you may have to pay upfront. Adoption is more expensive both domestically and internationally. There are state programs for families to receive health insurance based on their income level and the fact that they are having a baby. What if you are diagnosed with infertility and want a baby but cannot afford to undergo the treatments to get there? Money should never determine who can become parents. Yes you want to give children the best home but coming from a large family on a shoestring budget myself, I know that money doesn’t determine family. Yet my husband and I find ourselves weighing our options based on the costs, when our dream is simply to become parents.
Don’t ignore the irony…
…that the right to life or person-hood legislation may inhibit the ability to build a family for millions of couples who can’t conceive on their own. If you are hoping to become a parent by adopting an embryo the statistics for success are grim at best.
“According to the CDC, for embryo adoption the national average pregnancy rate is 43 percent and the national average live-birth rate is 35 percent. These statistics are from a database of all U.S. assisted reproductive technology clinics… Not all embryos survive the freeze/thaw process, and thawing of your selected embryos may not lead to a transfer. However, this may still offer the greatest hope of achieving pregnancy”* (see reference below)
Would the personhood legislation make it murder when an embryo doesn’t survive the thawing process? We cannot ignore the link between giving embryos personhood and the ability for millions of Americans to create families. Nor can we ignore that these laws intended to protect life, could limit the legal viability of using In vitro Fertilization or other methods, to build a family. Limiting the very people who would love and honor that new life with a profound sense of gratitude that can only come after experiencing the profound loss that IS infertility.
Don’t ignore the pain.
“Besides the medical part of infertility treatments, women and men are dealing with the emotional stress of infertility. To put this into perspective, infertility treatment can be as stressful as a cancer diagnosis. Unique emotional challenges such as understanding the medical diagnosis, the relationship with your spouse and your family and friends and, finally, financial stress all combine together to make dealing with this issue more stressful.”**(see reference below)
Don’t ignore support.
Over the past five years I have found that no level of support makes you feel all the way better about your infertility. Grief is a lonely thing no matter the cause. But there are ways to connect and seek support. Writing about it on this blog has helped me organize my thoughts and connect with others facing the similar things; it is also a way to share with my family and friends. You can also contact Resolve.org and find or create a support group in your area.
Want to learn more? Infertility 101: http://www.resolve.org/infertility101
Want to understand? An amazing video that I believe says it best for many of us: http://www.tearsandhope.com/
It’s National Infertility Awareness Week! Learn how to get involved and get support here: http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html
To learn more about embryo adoption: http://www.embryoadoption.org/files/2010_embryo_donation_adoption_101.pdf
* referenced from: http://www.embryodonation.org/index.php?content=adoption
Here are a few recordings from the Sunday gathering at the Kansas City Boiler Room. kcboilerroom.com
My parents both tell stories and share our family history:
A family shares their history and gives a prayer for those struggling with infertility and also those who long to be married. May it bring grace and healing to you as it did me.