“You didn’t try IVF???”
That was the response I got when informing an acquaintance that my son was adopted from Ethiopia. My answer? Nope. I didn’t. I didn’t try anything. I had three rather traumatic miscarriages in a row; what more was there to try?
My doctor (an ass but that is a separate story) referred me to a Women’s Reproductive Clinic for tons of testing and options. He sat with his hands folded in his lap, shook his head and quietly said, “I don’t doubt you will get pregnant. You just may need some help.”
“I don’t doubt you will get pregnant…”
Mike and I had decided at 27 that we were ready. Ready to have kids. I had gone into this same asshole’s office and said, “I want to get pregnant. What do I do?”
“Have a lot of sex.”
This seemed rather easy. After all, I had seen plenty of people get pregnant. How hard could this be? But there I was after three miscarriages. After months of peeing on sticks, waiting in labs, two D&Cs and many, many tears, hearing, “I don’t doubt you will get pregnant.”
Maybe I didn’t want to get pregnant anymore.
I called about the referral and a few days later received an insanely large packet to fill out. Medical history, mine and Mike’s, test options, etc. It was overwhelming. The packet sat on our coffee table for months. It had pictures of smiling moms holding babies. It made me feel like crap. Periodically I would say to Mike, “Should we finish filling this out?”
“Not now…maybe later.” He would return to his Wall Street Journal without even looking up.
“Ok, I don’t feel like it either.”
Then one day I said, “Are we doing this? Are we going to go and get tests and start this process?”
This sparked a conversation a long time coming. We felt like we had been through enough. We didn’t want to move forward in this direction. We could both agree on that. Moving forward, we realized, could very well result in a baby. It could also result in a great deal of stress, a great toll of my body, and perhaps the reality that one of us was “the issue”. Walking away didn’t label anyone the issue and removed the black cloud hanging over us. I threw the packet away and slept better than I had in months. Mike seemed like a new man.
“So we will just look into adoption then?” I asked.
“Sounds good.” He is a man of few words. This was basically like saying, “Yes! Can’t wait! That sounds like a great plan to move forward with.”
And so we did. We had always discussed adoption and had both felt like this was always something we had wanted to do. I remember being 18 and we had just started dating. I asked him, “How do you feel about adopting? I’d like to adopt.”
I swear I knew even back then. And luckily had found the right drunk college kid to date and ask that question.
When the packet from the adoption agency came, we filled it out right away. We signed up for the info session, reviewed countries, and ordered books. We (mostly I with support) were on a mission. Instead of anxiety and dread we were excited and relaxed. I knew this was the right decision. This was the option for us all along.
The wait was LONG!! And I was impatient and crazed. But never really stressed. When we saw EJ’s picture for the first time, that was it. All the trying, the miscarriages and anxiety floated away. And for the first time, I felt grateful for that time. Without it, we wouldn’t have been looking at a picture of the cutest baby imaginable. Our baby.
It is very likely that we can have a biological child. We both realize this. It would probably not even take IVF, as my new OBGYN mentioned to me. About a year after EJ came home, we discussed plans for more kids. I was a bit worried and felt guilty for not only wanting just one child but not wanting to try for a biological child at all. Mike said, “One and done!” This is now our motto.
I have a great amount of respect for women who go through fertility treatments. It takes strength and persistence. I would not have been able to do it. But I think the important thing for people to remember is that the paths that women take towards motherhood are all different. We don’t all follow the same steps. Some of us veer off and chart another path. Not a better one, a different one. But I am grateful every day that my path veered…