It is National Infertility Awareness Week and statistics show that 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. Infertility just means that they have been trying unsuccessfully for 1 year. So here is a little bit about our story.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency. This is a problem with my body's inability to manage hormones correctly. It is likely auto-immune related. If anyone remembers when I was growing up I got the hives for 365 consecutive days and the only thing that would make them go away was a drug that shut my immune system down, this would make sense. I was referred to a RE (reproductive Endocrinologist) and tried unsuccessfully to get my body to respond to high doses of hormones. We have a 5-10% chance of conceiving naturally, according to medical statistics. But we know God does not care what the statistics are. We were told our only options were adoption or using an egg donor and that when we decided what we wanted to do, to come back. The emotions started rolling in at this point. I believe I bawled all the way home. I felt like we were given a terminal illness diagnosis. I mean, how could someone that comes from such a big family have fertility problems? Why us? It's not fair! What did I ever do to deserve this? We are a Christian family, God should bless us with children. It was like I felt like we deserved to have a family and others didn't. Thankfully, God has brought me a long ways since that point in my life.
There are a lot of adoption options out there, which means a lot of dishonest/shady agencies as well. To go through the adoption process with a reliable well known agency in the US is anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000. International adoption is about 2 times that. Using an egg donor is anywhere form $15,000- $20,000. So not much cheaper. We decided we were going to have to wait on starting a family. We also prayed and talked about it, and decided egg donor was not right for us.
In the meantime, we heard about Embryo Adoption. We are in the process of doing lots of research and praying to see if this is the right option for us. We are willing to follow wherever God directs us. Please pray for us.
Now, I would just like to share a few things not to say to someone struggling with infertility. I will just give you a heads up that I have said most of these things before I knew what they really meant, So, please, don't feel bad if you are guilty of any of these. Just learn from it and move forward.
1. "You could always just adopt." And so could you. It's not that easy. You don't just fill out some paperwork and they hand you a beautiful healthy baby. Adoption is hard. It is heart wrenching. It is life changing. It is not easy. It is not a smooth process. It takes lots of money. It takes lots of faith. And if this is in God's plan for you, He will definitely help you through it. But you can't "just adopt".
2. "Just relax. If you stop thinking about it, it will happen." Really? This is a medical diagnosis. Not a mental block. If this were the case, I would take a vacation and come back pregnant.
3. "You have time." or "You're still young." I am well aware of my age. 5 years has already passed since we started this journey. Then what? Another 5? Then another? My 5-10% chance goes down every year that my age goes up. It will only get harder. Then if you want to have more than 2 kids and not be 60 when they graduate high school. You kind of have to take that into consideration.
4. "I wish I had that problem. My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant." Yes. I have heard this one. Just don't.
5. "You're lucky you don't have kids. You can just go whenever you want." Again, just don't. We know our lives would change should we be blessed with kids someday. We know we would have to watch our finances closer. We know it would take longer to get anywhere or to do anything. We know they are messy. We know they are loud. We know this. Please don't make your blessings sound like a curse.
6. "Maybe you're not meant to be parents." This one really hurts. A lot. If this were true, why are there abusive parents out there that have children? Are they meant to be parents? Teenage moms & dads. Are they meant to be parents? No one knows but God why bad things happen to good people. We truly believe that our struggle has a reason and when we are able to hold our baby in our arms someday, we will know why.
7. "You can be a mother to your friends kids, or nieces and nephews." I would rather just be their aunt or friend. Not a 2nd mom. It hurts when people assume that since we don't have our own kids, that when we all get together we enjoy being at the kids table. That we would rather be in the corner babysitting your kids while you laugh and have conversations with other adults. We love your kids dearly, we would just prefer to parent our own.
8. "It could be worse." This is "worse" for me. I have dreamed of having a family since I was a little girl. This is like saying, "It could be worse. Both of your parents could have died in the car accident." What is worse for you is not what is worse for me and vice versa. So please just refrain from saying that.
Now here are some ideas of things you can say or ways you can help.
1. Text, call, message, write. Just a simple note of encouragement is nice. We like to know that you recognize our struggle and that it is not awkward to talk to us about this subject. Just a simple "We're praying for you" is nice.
2. Plan a kid free evening. This may sound rather selfish, but sometimes we just need to feel that we aren't the odd ducks in the room. And maybe the conversation doesn't have to revolve around kids, sleeping patterns, Carter's sales, and discipline so much.
3. Support our decisions. Whatever they may be. Whether we decide to do embryo adoption or domestic adoption, please let us know you support us and that you pray for God's will to be done in our lives. You can ask me how things are going. I really don't mind talking about it if I know you are interested in listening. There may be some tears, but that's okay. I need to know you care.
4. Encourage us on Mother's Day/Father's Day This might seem hard for you to do. It may seem awkward. But it means so much to us! Just a simple "We said an extra prayer for you on this special day" is nice.
5. Be patient. I have been on an emotional roller coaster for 5 years now. Sometimes I may seem distant. Sometimes I may be sad. Please try to understand. I wish this wasn't how I was. I am working through these emotions a little at a time and I really do think it is getting better. But I still have my days. I probably always will. It's not something I can just bury and move on. So, please, be patient with me.
6. Become informed. If you don't know, ask. I am more than willing to share what I have learned through all of this. I would like to encourage anyone that wants to become informed to read Hannah's Hope. This book was loaned to me by a friend who also struggles with infertility. There are so many positive things in there about how family and friends can help that I believe would be beneficial.
^^^This is so true.
I hope this post doesn't make you feel like you need to walk on egg shells around me. I was trying to do the exact opposite. Now that I feel like I have put this all out in the open, maybe it will help in the healing process. Thanks for reading and don't hesitate to talk to me if you want more information or me to clarify anything I said!