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Where Do Babies Come From? An Infertility Story.

Four years.

You can do a lot in four years. A college degree can be earned. The Golden Gate Bridge was built. Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa. The Civil War started and ended. What I haven’t accomplished in 4 years? Pregnancy. Adoption. Stealing a baby. Any of the above. (Not even the sweet delusional distraction of a phantom pregnancy.)

When I asked my mom as a child, “where do babies come from?” she didn’t say,“from needle injections, fertility drugs, hormone pills, suppositories (I’ll spare you the details of that one, but let’s just say there’s a surprise ending on where it goes), syringes, tubes, and every doctor on the Eastern seaboard.” Alright maybe not every doctor but, alas, this has been my experience.

In our 3rd year of marriage my husband and I started trying to get pregnant.

After a year of no success, I went to my OB-GYN and mentioned it. She responded with some version of, “You are young; no need to worry about that now. Besides, you won’t want that many kids once you actually have one.”  Hm… is that your professional opinion or just a personal one? (and btw – I wasn’t that young. I definitely wouldn’t qualify for an episode of “16 & Pregnant.”)

Fast forward a couple of years and now they’re saying, “Well if you want to have kids, you need to get started! Your window of fertility is closing.” Seriously? Exactly how small is that window and where is the brick I can throw at it? In four years I’ve gone from “too young” to “too old?” Naturally, I gave that office a scathing review internally (and if anyone had been in my head to hear it – they would’ve been proud!) while I took my business elsewhere.

During this time we applied and were accepted into an adoption program in Taiwan. I got through the grueling and complicated application process. They told us we would be on the waiting list for a little over a year before being matched up with a child. Soon after joining the program, the government of Taiwan changed the licensing they require from agencies. So the adoption program has been on hold (and is still currently on hold as I write this) until the new licensing is approved. Hope deferred… again.

How do you cope when your husband wakes up crying in the middle of the night because he’s dreaming of the children you don’t have?  

How do you answer the questions that are always lingering in the back of your head? 

“Does my husband regret marrying me (because I haven’t been able to have children)?”
“Is this a sign that I’m gonna be a terrible mother and shouldn’t have children?”

We recently met with a 16 year old who is pregnant and trying to decide what to do with the baby. We sat down and talked to her about the possibility of adoption. It is one of the strangest things I’ve ever experienced. How do you emotionally prepare for something like that? How can you possibly know how you are going to feel talking to a stranger about their child possibly being your child? What’s the right reaction when watching a 16 year old accidentally experience what you’ve been trying to experience for several years? (btw – she didn’t pick us for the adoption.)

I feel naively prepared, if the day comes, on what to expect when I get pregnant. All of my sisters and friends (my fellow TLP contributors) meet together weekly and not one of those meetings go by where pregnancy, children, and all the inbetween doesn’t get discussed in full detail. (It’s a wonder we get any work done!) But no one was able to prepare me for all this: infertility, international adoption, local adoption, waiting, $$, interviews, government involvement, not experiencing pregnancy, disappointment, frustration, extreme sadness.

As our 7th year of marriage approaches, we’ve done every test available to do. We’ve heard, “there’s no reason you shouldn’t be pregnant by now,” over and over again. I’ve taken clomid, done IUI’s, and all the medications and drugs that go with that. We’ve done everything we can do in the adoption process besides keep waiting.

Writing this, I’m still not pregnant and we still haven’t been matched up with a child for adoption. So this article doesn’t come as one of those, “I’m on the other side of it now with three kids and I’m remembering back” stories. Nope. Still in it… writing from a place of failure and pain.

Even though I’m still waiting, I don’t feel hopeless. With each day that passes, I feel my constitution and resolve growing. With each disappointment, my legs get stronger. (You know, the whole “what doesn’t kill me” routine.) On the days when intense sadness arises, my fortitude increases. And maybe one day people will say, “that girl’s got grit.”

I think about all the other women out there who know what it feels like. There’s a proverb that says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness.”  Yes, no one else really knows the pain you feel. Only each individual understands the true extent to which they are suffering. But at least we aren’t alone. Even if we can’t feel each others heartache exactly, we are able to sympathize and share our own experiences. You aren’t alone. At the very least, it’s me and you. Together.

So here’s to us, who may be childless, but are still lovely… Cheers! (We can toast with alcohol, since none of us are pregnant. What, too soon?)