Friday, January 9, 2015

Our Story: Nothing Like We Planned. But Perfect.

“It will happen in time.”  “Don’t worry so much about it, it will happen as soon as you stop trying.”  We even had one person tell us “Well, some people just may not be meant to be parents.”  REALLY!  Who says that to someone!  (Rude people is who!  OOOPS, did I write that??)

We are a couple of “infertility.”  Wow---how terrible for us.  How did we ever find the strength to go on?  How did we function and get out of bed every morning knowing we were a barren couple?  Might as well sign up for a life of lonely sorrow now. 

Luckily we were not that kind of couple.  Yes we had some times we were mad and many more times we were sad.  But we truly did chose to not let this define us.  Our story is unconventional, unexpected, and has two amazingly perfect surprises.   Let me tell you our story.

My hubby, B, and I met in high school.  He was a year older and he was VERY different than my other boyfriends.  But it was truly the start of our not-so-perfect, absolutely hard, wonderful, crazy, at-times-frustrating-but-always-filled-with-love life.  We married in 1999 after dating for 5 years.  We were just 22 years old.  We definitely weren’t thinking about having children yet. 

Fast forward another 2 years.  Some friends started having kids.  Boy, that looks like fun we thought.  Let’s just see what happens we said.  We only told a few friends we were throwing caution to the wind.  We didn’t tell our families because we were still so young, everyone kept saying we had plenty of time and we needed to wait.  Pick a reason and we were given it: 1) to buy our first house, 2) to be older, 3) to have more stable, higher paying jobs, or 4) any other reason in the world that crossed anyone’s mind ever.

A few more years go by.  Nothing has happened yet.  Alright—now some people are starting to ask.  “Hey, when you two having kids?”  “How long have you been married?  5 years?  Wow---no kids yet , huh?”  We started thinking maybe I should just mention to the doctor at my next appointment that we are a little concerned it is taking so long. 

At my next appointment my doctor decides to have me try Clomid.  This will surely do it he says.  You are young, you just need a little help. 

Nothing happens. Month after month I take the Clomid, wait, not pregnant.  Back to doctor for ultrasound, new prescription, do it again.  I do this for 5 months.  I start wondering what is wrong with us?  The doctor decides to do some more testing.  We hear the news.  To have a child we will most likely have to do in-vitro fertilization.  We are referred to the nearest Fertility Clinic—2 ½ hours away.  We go, we pay the $500.00 consult fee (which to us then was a FORTUNE) and we spend 3 hours being tested.  I get my cervix biopsied on the exam table while thinking I was just getting a quick exam.  “This will just sting a little” they said---WHAT EVER!  It hurt!  Poor B is put in some room with poor lighting and some “magazines” and told to do his thing like that is the most natural place and thing in the world.  We are told again that In-Vitro is our only chance.  We cringe at the dollar amounts it will take and drive home trying to think how we will ever save that much money to then spend on a “chance” to get pregnant.  We start talking about adoption.  But how could we do that?  Won’t the child one day want their “real parents” and leave us?  Would we love the child the same as if we had one of our “own?” 

I get a promotion and we move over an hour away from home.  We settle in our new house and new city.  Then good news!  At open season for insurance enrollment and changes at my work I find insurance that COVERS INFERTILITY----EVEN IVF!!!!!!!!  Are you kidding me?  This is the answer to our prayers.  Now it is just a matter of time til we have a baby.  Simple, right? 

We meet with one of a very few doctors covered under our plan. He is 4 hours away.  But we are lucky because he partners with a local gynecologist in our town so we can do almost everything in town except for the egg retrieval and the transfers.  How did we get so lucky!  We paid a fairly small deposit to cover any out of pocket expenses and got to work!  I went to appointments and ordered the shots to start our first round of IVF.   I started the injections, at one point 4 per day.  My stomach bruised.  My insides felt like they were jiggling around every time I walked, moved, etc.  I cried at nothing.  My feelings were hurt if B even left a sock on the floor as somehow I thought it was a personal attack on me.  It was hard.  But it was temporary and would be over soon and I would be pregnant as I was sure I would be pregnant the first time around---this is the help we needed and our doctor’s success rate on live births was great. 

11 eggs were retrieved.  6 fertilized.  4 became blastocysts.   2 were transferred and the other 2 frozen for storage and for our next baby of course. 

We waited.  People asked what we would do if we had twins.  My response was always “Well, we will feed them and love them.  We do not know what 1 is like let alone 2 so we will not know any different.” 

Negative.  The test was negative.  WHAT?  What do you mean?  I cried.  I left work and went home to lay on my bed and cried. 

As time passed we decided to wait to transfer the other 2 embryos as we were going to be moving back to our hometown.  Once settled we went to our local doctor who agreed to work with the fertility doctor for the 2nd transfer so that we would not have to drive the now 5 hour drive except for the consult and the transfer.  This worked out great.  We were so happy.  This is definitely it!  We are back home around our family, we found a house and have gotten settled, we are both happy at our jobs.  
This is definitely it.  And our hometown doctor was so great and we felt very positive to do the 2nd transfer. 

We went up the night before the transfer and settled into the hotel we had booked for 3 nights.  I know, I know they say you can go back to normal pretty much the day after the transfer but heck no!  I wasn’t chancing anything by driving 5 hours back home the day after.  I was gonna lay my behind on that bed in the hotel room with no distractions or responsibilities and let these little babies get nice and comfy! 

The morning of the transfer we were up early and left early.  We drove around before heading to the clinic.  We parked and went in and headed up to have these babies transferred!  We met with the nurse, we saw the pictures of our “babies” on the computer screen, I got undressed and put on the gown and laid on the table.  The doctor came in and explained that this time he was going to thread the catheter that held the embryos into a “tubing” to hold it more steady while he inserted it past my cervix because last time there was a little trouble getting it past my cervix and he wanted to decrease the small amount of “trauma” that had caused.  I held B’s hand and we felt even more positive as surely this was definitely going to ensure it worked this time.  That was obviously the problem with the last transfer. 

The little door in the wall between the exam room and the lab opened and I saw the catheter being passed through.  The lights in the room were off except for the bright light down at the end of the table where the doctor was.  I relaxed and exhaled. I was ready.

“Clang!!”  I heard a clattering noise.  I looked up.  I saw my nurses face go white.  I heard mumbling.  I held B’s hand.  I heard someone say “How long till more will be ready?”  I then heard “That was all she had.”  Huh?  Are they out of the tubing the catheter was to be put into?  That must be it.  Oh well, I am sure they will figure something out. 

Some additional lights came on.  “I’m so sorry.  I am not sure what to say but when I was threading the catheter into the tubing it fell.  With the catheter.  I’m so sorry, the embryos are gone.”

What in the world?  Are you kidding me?  That is what was going through my mind.  I heard B mumble nervously that everything was ok.  I remember smiling at first nervously.  Then I started to cry.  

The doctor patted my knee and said “Stay the night tonight.  You two go to dinner.  Send me the bills.  We will discuss later how to go forward.”  He left the room.  I started to get up.  I was still sobbing.  The nurse had me lay back down.  She said take your time.  Do you need something to help you sleep tonight?  I shook my head no.  She said “I am so sorry.  This happens sometimes but not often.  I am so sorry and take your time getting dressed.”  She left the room.  I tried to get up. B had me sit back down.  

I sobbed for several more minutes before getting up and getting dressed.  I will never forget walking out of that room and the nurses and staff trying not to stare as I walked out and my nurses both coming up and hugging me and saying they would talk to me soon.  My doctor did not come out. 

We got into the car in silence.  We looked at each other and half-laughed and half-cried “Did this just happen?”  B asked if I wanted to go home or stay the night. I said stay the night.  We drove back to the hotel and I started texting our friends and family.  We drove into the parking garage at the hotel.

BAMMM!  A huge jolt.  B just ran our truck into a concrete pillar in the parking garage.  I start to laugh as tears also run down my face.  He gets out and goes to the edge of parking garage and screams a four letter word that may or may not rhyme with truck.  He gets back into the truck, which is very smashed but still drive able. He says we are going home. I said Ok.

The next few days and weeks are somewhat a blur.  We were devastated.  What would we do?  The nurses called to check on me.  I didn’t answer the phone.  (The doctor called me several weeks later, I never called him back.) 

We decided no more treatments. No more talking about treatments for a while.  We were taking a break. 

Little did we know after all of this that there was a wonderful turn coming in our lives. 

When we met our daughter, now 5 years old, she was only 16 months old.  We met her the day after my husband’s birthday on June 26, 2010.  I always thought if we adopted that we had to adopt a newborn.  But when we saw her we just knew she was ours.  I had tears in my eyes.  It was her.  We both felt it from the first time we met her. 

Our child, T, was a foster placement with her grandparents.  We thought for sure that we would just be able to sweep in and adopt her.  Not so much.  After about 1 billion discussions and late night texting we came to the conclusion we could not simply adopt her but that her grandparents would and we would just be a positive influence in her life.  We would be God parents to her and take her if anything ever happened to the grandparents.  We were sad at first but knew we would have a fantastic relationship with her regardless and were thankful for that.  We celebrated the adoption by the grandparents.  We threw a celebration party for them.  We were thrilled.  We did not know that 6 short months later things would significantly change. 

A few months before T’s 3rd birthday her grandfather started suffering some serious health issues.  After many more discussions the decision was made that we would have T live with us.  We all agreed that we would get guardianship of her until his health improved. They would still see her several times a week and even have her overnight weekly. 

Then the diagnosis came.  ALS.  A horrible disease.  Again we had many discussions and all agreed that this little girl should stay with us.  Then cancer was found.  We started talking about the fact that she was only 3 and maybe it would be best to have her be with us permanently.  Have a mom and dad.  Make it all official before she was older and things may get harder.  We all decided at that time we would adopt her.

On 10/3/2012 we adopted our 3 ½ year old beautiful girl.  We were all over the moon.  And little did we know there was another huge blessing in store for us.

We had started some more treatments prior to the finalization of T’s adoption.  We still wanted to have another child and for T to have a sibling.  She was 3 and the timing seemed great.  We tried IUI several times with some new techniques with no success.  After another test it was discovered I had some significant blockage and surgery would be required and IVF needed to be reconsidered.  I said I would consider it.  With my doctor and the mid-wife at the office in the room with me I looked at them both, they are both also personal friends of ours and our family, I said to them “I will consider IVF again if you make me a promise.  If there is anyone who comes to you and wants to adopt out a baby, please keep us in mind.”  They both knew we had recently adopted T and that our homestudy was still current and we were basically “ready to go” if the opportunity presented itself.  This was November 2012.

On February 6, 2013 my doctor called my cell phone.  “We have a baby.  I need to know now if you are still interested.  We have to have an answer for the person tonight.  I don’t know all the details yet except the baby is due March 3.”  (THREE WEEKS!  A Newborn baby!!!)  While on the phone I ran to tell my husband.  I whispered to him while at the same time telling my doctor “YES!” 

The next three weeks went by in a blur.  The biggest two things I remember were extreme feelings of excitement and joy but also extreme feelings of anxiety and fear.  Would the mother go through with it?  Could we come up with the expenses to cover this so quickly?  Could all the paperwork be done this fast?  We had nothing for a baby as T was older when she came to live with us. We started asking all of our friends if they had things we could borrow so that we didn’t buy anything until after the baby came in case things fell through. On Friday March 1st we received the call that the birth mother was being induced that Sunday March 3rd.  We were to be at the hospital at 5am and would have a room as well.  This was a closed adoption and we were not meeting the birth family. 

And then it was Sunday at 5:00am.  

Besides backing into my mother-in-laws car in the parking lot as we left for the hospital (I did this!  Even with back up cameras and sensors.  But sheesh I was getting ready to have a baby!)  everything worked exactly as we could have imagined.  We waited anxiously for the baby to be born.  We observed visitors going in and out of the birth mother’s room.  The day ticked away as we tried to pass time by registering for things online for the baby and keeping our family in the waiting room updated.  
At 3:00pm my doctor came into the room and said “It’s time. Are you ready?”  She told us they were ready for the birth mother to start pushing and the baby would be there any minute. 

Our son (P) was born at 3:40pm.  He was 8.3 lbs and 21 inches long.  He had a head full of strawberry blonde hair.  And he was amazing!!!!!!  He was bathed in our room.  We stared at him amazed.  Then B went out to the waiting room to bring back our son’s first visitor.  His sister.  With her Big Sister shirt on she charged through the door with her Daddy and bee-lined for her new baby brother.  Our family was now complete.  We felt the completeness. 

I always tell people that our children are the same children we would have had regardless of who actually gave birth to them.  We truly feel that.  The infertility, the heart ache, the doubts and frustrations and every feeling we experienced led us to our children, just not in the way we, as young newlyweds, had originally envisioned.  The path we took was long and at times the legal paperwork and hoops to go through were overwhelming, expensive, and frustrating. 

Our original thoughts of if we could love an adopted child as much as one of “our own?”  Well, hmmmmm.  I’m really not sure how to answer that anymore.  We have two children of our own.  Yes, they were adopted, but they are our “own” children.

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