[Mommyhood Monday] The Story of Harry, Part III

In The Story of Harry Part I and Part II, we shared the back story on our fertility story.  Basically, I heard I may not be able to have kids, told Matt when we started dating, he was really awesome, we got married, eventually started trying to get pregnant and found it not coming so easily. We moved back to Texas from Vancouver, slowed life down a bit and pondered our options.

In Part II, I mentioned that fertility treatments were not an option for us.  To expand upon that a bit: as a couple, we were lucky that this was a required pre-marital topic of conversation.  Since my fertility was questionable, we talked about what would happen if we couldn’t get pregnant.  As I mentioned in Part I, in the 10+ years I had been given to consider my fertility I came to the conclusion that if I couldn’t get pregnant, then I was 100% called to adopt.  Did I want a sweet, soft baby with baby smells and baby sounds?  Of course I did.  But could I pay thousands and thousands of dollars for a baby that may not happen when there are children out there in need of love and a home?  I personally could not.  And neither could Matt.  And that was nice, to be on the same page.

Now this is a highly personal choice for every person and couple.  If I had not had years to ponder the possibilities, I know how quickly I would have continued to explore every other option.  In this day and age, we women are made to believe that we can do everything and we can do it whenever we want.  At a young age we are pointed to birth control in an effort to “control” our bodies and their natural functions (for our personal convenience or to mask the symptoms of other health irregularities).  Then, we go off of this medicine and expect quick results when we want it to do what we’ve told it not to do for a while.   And THEN we’re pointed to take more drugs and pay more money to get it to do that.  For every single person that’s experienced it, in any fashion, it’s sincerely tragic when it doesn’t happen.  For some, it calls you to question your womanhood and what you have to offer your spouse.  This was something I had always battled.   This is why Matt’s comment in Part I was so epic, “this world will not be deprived of a beautiful mom…perhaps only of beautiful babies.”  Throughout this time he reminded me of this, constantly.  So while we consider fertility to be a blessing…we also had to consider infertility to be a blessing.  All roads still led to a family and plenty of babies out there want one, too.  That was our personal choice.

So as we found ourselves home in Austin, we laid low and began to look toward adoption.  Because I turned down a job offer upon arrival in an effort to rest for a bit, my schedule was far less demanding than when we lived in Vancouver.  Now I was taking care of my nephews (my sister liked to refer to me as her “lady in waiting” in those days) and we were staying in, sleeping more, doing less.   Matt quit drinking caffeine and alcohol and boosted his Vitamin C, taking some of Dr. Shannon’s advice as a last-ditch effort, but I moved on from the daily tasks of charting and monitoring.

I was also fighting the urge to become bitter.  Accepting that God’s in charge doesn’t automatically prepare you for the emotions of His plan.   Embracing the idea of adoption was incredibly easy, but releasing myself from the idea of being pregnant certainly was not.  There were only three instances where I allowed myself to be vulnerable with close friends…to tell them how hard of a time I was having with our fertility test results.  Every single one of them found out they were pregnant within a matter of days.  For each of them I was thrilled and so truly happy.  That part came easy.  But facing a very likely reality that we would never get to experience this gift of biological parenthood, that was heartbreaking.  I didn’t let myself cry over it until I heard a pregnant couple complain about the inconveniences of morning sickness and food cravings.  That was too much for me.  I could be genuinely happy for you, but I was not in a place to sympathize with your pregnancy symptoms.  I excused myself and cried in the restaurant bathroom for 15 minutes.  That was my emotional low.

Up2

Can I just say that the Infertility scene in the “Up” life sequence made me “ugly cry”?  Still does. 

Then in early April (four months since we’d moved back), I suddenly grew very lazy.  I had super low energy and felt a little queasy.  I wrote it off but then tried to count back to my most recent cycle and couldn’t.  I was going to dismiss it for a few days more but then remembered that my dear Diana mentioned me wearing an A-line bridesmaid dress for her August wedding.  Since she was going to pull the trigger on that pretty soon, I went to the grocery store for my sister and picked up a test (without telling her).  I went back to her house and took it.

Positive.

Back in Vancouver, a sweet nurse friend gave me about a couple dozen pregnancy tests when she found out we were “trying”.  I had gone through them during our efforts and taking them became a very sad experience.  I would wait until I was 5, 6, up to 10 days late…all negative.  This “positive” was hard-earned*.

I walked out of the bathroom, stunned, and showed my sister.  She had me turn around and take the other test in the box.  Another positive.  I panicked…”I’m on sabbatical…who will hire a pregnant woman…we’re not prepared for this!”  My sister reminded me of the logic that had carried Matt and me through so much, “everything happens according to a plan and you’re not in charge.”  Clearly.

I texted Matt, “Call me ASAP.”  He called me, out of breath, “Are you…?”  Apparently, unlike me,  Matt had not stopped counting the days.  He had been suspicious before I even thought it an option but didn’t bring it up for fear of dashed hopes. Such a faithful man.

We were pregnant.  We were going to have a baby.  There were many challenges to face and come through, but the seemingly impossible had become possible.  Through no rhyme or reason but solely through the grace of God (though we do strongly believe He did some work through Dr. Shannon).

I will always remember my very first doctor’s visit, specifically when my doctor did the dating sonogram and I saw our baby for the very first time.  I cried and mentioned to her how ever since my diagnosis at 17, I had prepared myself for this to never happen.  She responded with, “It’s maddening what some doctors put young girls through…you didn’t need to go through that for so long.  There’s so much we don’t know.”  I’m pretty sure she thought I was crazy when I told her that I was thankful for it.

And I am.  How else would Matt and I have tackled such critical conversations early on?  My questionable fertility led us to better habits, an incredibly healthier diet, and, most importantly, a surrender to the Lord’s plan for us.  The word “control” finds ways to sneak itself into the lives of the most faithful and we were certainly no exception.  Even in our boasts of obedience to His will and our acceptance of His plan, we were still blindsided.   How sweet is that! (And how foolish is boasting?)  Now our hearts have been opened to adoption and the calling still remains.   This is not to be written off, it is not to be tossed aside or forgotten.  But we got to start our family with Harry.

Look at me, making progress in Harry’s story!  The next one is the last of this series and it’s the motherload…his Birth Story.  (Only 14 months later!)

Peace and Blessings to you as you start the week…make it a meaningful one!

*I am highly sensitive to the fact that our “hard-earned” positive is still laughable compared to the thousands and thousands of couples who go through longer periods of fertility woes, miscarriages, and those who never receive the positive test result.  I very much believe that the journey for each couple is different, not to be weighed against each other or competed against.  We received a beautiful gift and however any future gifts should present themselves (biologically or by other means), our lessons learned were to never assume where God’s plan is taking us and, no matter where it leads, to never stop counting our blessings.

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[Mommyhood Monday] The Story of Harry, Part I

Harry’s story goes back about ten years.  Yep, ten long years.

When I was a little girl (I promise the story doesn’t stay here for very long), I wanted to be a teacher and a mommy.  When I graduated from high school, I was headed to UT Austin as an education major with a long-term boyfriend.  Almost there…?  Nope. (Phew.)

That summer, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Disease – chronic cysts on the ovaries.  Over time, PCOS can greatly lessen a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.  After several months of ultrasounds and painkillers, I was put on birth control in order to “preserve my fertility.”  Though I know this is a common practice for women on PCOS, I had no desire to be on The Pill.  My struggle was both health related and spiritual.  I didn’t like the idea of hormones being put into my body to manipulate it and more importantly, I struggled with how me taking birth control was me trying to manipulate God’s plan for me.  After about 6 months, I kicked it to the curb.

The next several years were spent trying to not think about it.  I wasn’t close to getting married, or sexually active, so I told myself to just trust in His plan.  I allowed myself to think through the options in the case of fertility struggles.

I processed through fertility treatments.  Since being a mommy starts with being pregnant, I wondered how necessary this was for me.  Of course I wanted it.  But why?  Because this was the only way to have a baby or because I had it set in my mind what being a mommy looked like?  I started to look around and though I knew it would be hard; I also took a look at the foster system in the US.  I looked at all the kids without a stable home or family unit.  I even looked at how many parents wait for a baby versus the number of older kids stuck in the foster care system.  It’s appalling.  Again, I TOTALLY understand why couples go through fertility treatments and why people wait for a baby to adopt, but I wondered if I was being called to be a mommy to those other kids, to the ones nobody else wanted.

I didn’t come to any conclusions on this, I just processed.  After all, I wasn’t close to getting married.

Then I met Matt.  Our story will come later but you must know, it isn’t easy to tell this to a guy you’re interested in.  How do you bring that up?  “I love your hair like that! Oh, FYI…I’ve been told I may not be able to have babies.  Which movie are we going to see tonight?”  It actually ended up being forced out.  See every once in a while I’d get weepy over all of it.  I may have been blessed with perspective, but not without hormones.  Every so often I would have the pains that were associated with a ruptured cyst, reminding me of it all.  One night, about a month into dating, I felt such pains and on came the emotions.  Matt was there and it all came tumbling out.  As I closed my eyes, waiting for an awkward, “oh well…that’s really upsetting”, I instead got this: “this world will not be deprived of a beautiful mom…perhaps only of beautiful babies.” Um…that was unexpected.  And wonderful.

So I married him.  Not right away, that comes later.  But I pushed the fertility thoughts out of my mind.  They were not yet relevant and my future Baby Daddy was on board for whatever God’s plan was for me, now us.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, I was a semester away from being a certified teacher before I switched majors.  Yep, I like to make a plan and then change things at the last moment.  You’ll see that happen again.

Part I ends with a photo of how Matt and I ultimately decided to handle fertility in our marriage.  More of that next Monday.