Monday, March 21, 2011

Kate's Journey To Motherhood

We talk a lot about fun, light-hearted, pretty things here at Bloom. And that's fine. But sometimes our real-life journeys, though ultimately beautiful, aren't all "cute" or "fun." Sometimes the price we have to pay for things we desire is very dear. We want to recognize and talk about that reality, too. We're so thankful to Kate for sharing the story of her journey to motherhood and opening up a dialog about infertility, adoption, and family building that's outside "the norm."


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I feel like these days, fertility, or the lack thereof, is much more common... or much more talked about. For that I'm grateful. My husband and I were married seven years ago. Shortly thereafter we started trying for a family. After about 7 months of "trying" we were finding ourselves unsuccessful. Now I know that you're not even considered to have fertility problems until you've been trying for a year (if you are under a certain age, I think it's 35). It can take that long for a perfectly healthy couple to conceive.


Even though I knew this, I had a strange feeling that something was up. I went and saw a regular OB who said he "did" infertility. Whatever that means; I didn't know. We really didn't know what to do or who to talk to. So after regular blood tests were done that said everything was normal he agreed to do a round of IUI (Intro Uterine Insemination). I must have done a good job convincing him that I really wanted to try something since it hadn't been a year. After a failed attempt I got the best advice from a new friend that had been through what I was going through. I'd give you the same advice if you asked me. She told us to go see a fertility specialist and not waste time or money on an OB. What she said that made a lot of sense to me was: an OB, for the most part, delivers babies, a specialist only works on figuring out what might be the problem and getting you pregnant.


Our specialist diagnosed two specific problems that were indeed preventing pregnancy. We then tried 5 more rounds of IUI (with much more monitoring) and one round of IVF. All without any success.


About six months before our IVF attempt and during our rounds of IUI, we also completed our paperwork with an adoption agency through our church. LDS Family Services. We figured we'd explore all our options. I think what helped us feel so comfortable with adoption is we had friends (who I also nannied for) who adopted their first child and had twins through IVF. We got to witness first hand how much it didn't matter, adopted or biological, those children were loved just the same.


Six months after our failed IVF attempt and a year after completing our adoption paperwork we were chosen by a birthmother. A little girl who was to be born in 3 weeks! We were overwhelmed, excited, scared and very nervous. To make a very long story short, the placement failed and we flew home empty handed. Of all the failed fertility procedures this hit me the hardest. I was devastated. I think it was the hardest thing I've ever been through. Everything we had tried (and by this point we'd tried a lot) had failed. I was starting to feel like a failure right along with everything else. I thought for sure I'd never be a mother. I was a wreck to say the least.


It took me four months to come back to 'life' where I felt there was hope of us building a family. Now I know that sounds dramatic, it even sounds dramatic to me right now. But it's the truth. Not being able to do what it seems everyone around you can do so easily and practically without thought, is well, hard. Really hard.


About six months after the failed adoption we were contacted by another birthmother. The second I finished reading her email, I knew she would place her baby with us. I knew it. I felt peaceful, happy and excited (well thrilled beyond belief) about it. I think it was a gift, that feeling, after all I'd been through. And six months after that our beautiful son Charlie was born. I was a mother. She was a mother. She gave us the most beautiful gift I believe anyone can give on this earth. Something we were unable to do for ourselves, she selflessly gave. She gave us a family. I'm not sure I can begin to express the emotions that were present during those 3 days in the hospital. Love, anxiety, selflessness, happiness, sadness, joy. Pure joy!


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And then almost two years after Charlie was born we were blessed to be able to adopt our daughter Lucy. With her, we went through a private agency and instead of six months, we had 7 days notice! It was crazy and wonderful all at the same time!


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These two children are (obviously) the light of our lives.


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I'm not sure how I could have made this introduction/story any shorter. I want to be able to answer any questions I can about adoption or fertility that you might have. Anne, Em and I think there is interest. And I guess it is interesting when something like building a family is done different from the "norm" :). I felt like you should know my back ground, where I've been in regards to the subject! With one failed adoption and two successful adoptions (from two different kinds of agencies) under my belt I think I can give you an accurate look into what it's like.


Next, I was thinking of giving a “beginners guide to adoption”. I'm not sure what to include, what to leave out. If anyone has any questions please, please feel free to ask. I will answer as best I can. From ‘how much does it cost?’, to ‘what not to say to an adoptive mom?’, to ‘how do I communicate with our birthmothers?’, to ‘what language to use and not use when referring to adoption?’. Nothing is off limits. Because this is my life and so normal to me I almost don't know what will be interesting to you!


Thank you for listening. I love to share our story. As do most adoptive parents, (I think *wink*). Our journey has certainly been an adventure. We’ve learned a lot, we’ve grown a lot and we wouldn’t change a single thing.


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25 comments:

Chelsi said...

my friend e-mailed me your story. thanks for sharing it! i am a baby-starved wingnut who is planning on starting the adoption process within the next few months. (whenever we pray about it, we get the answer that we need a house first. we're hoping to close on a house in may.) i have a number of questions. 1. how can i prepare myself for a failed adoption? can i? i am terrified. 2. why did you choose to go through someone other than lds the second time? 3. are your adoptions open or closed? if you want to know more about me go to liljohnstons.blogspot.com or just e-mail me at chelsi.johnston@gmail.com. thanks for spreading the love. :)

Abbie said...

Thank you for your story. Adoption (both placing and receiving babies)/infertility has played a huge part in my family. Adoption is the most love filled thing I've ever EVER witnessed. It is amazing how much a birthmother sacrifices, and how easily and quickly a baby can be loved no matter how he/she is received into a family. Adoption is the greatest miracle of all miracles, in my opinion.

Emily said...

Thank you thank you, Bloom (and Kate), for this post! As someone who has been through nightmarish failed fertility treatments and has since been blessed by adoption, this post really spoke to me. My question for Kate and any other adoptive mamas out there: does anyone else feel like the "odd mom out" when talking with other moms? Maybe the feeling dissipates as children grow older and talking about being pregnant and giving birth is less relevant :) (my baby is not yet a year), but sometimes I get the feeling that other moms looks at me like some kind of phony or something, having not gone through those things.

Anyway, thanks so much for bringing this topic to a discussion!

Megan said...

Thank you for sharing your story. While I have not had to go through the heartache that you have, I know several amazing women who have had to deal with their bodies or their husbands' being unable to produce children. They have not yet gone through the process of adoption but I think the more information that is made available about the life of an adoptive parent, the better. Good luck with your adoptive parent guide, I believe it will help many who currently have broken hearts.

Jen said...

It's funny...I both totally empathize and have no idea what you have been through at the same time. I struggled for years with infertility, gave up entirely, and am now (spontaneously! no medical help!) pregnant with the miracle baby I thought we'd never have. We don't know if this baby will be our only biological child or not, so I want to be sure my mind and heart are open to the possibilities of adoption. Thanks so much for sharing your story and being willing to be an ambassador for potential adoptive parents.

Also, I completely agree with your suggestion to infertile couples to skip the OB and go straight to a specialist. You can get some real answers much faster that way.

Laurel said...

Kate, I, too, am a mom to two adopted children, and I loved your post. I related on so many levels. I have said for many years now that I think our infertility was a huge blessing to me, because it has given me such perspective about being a mother. I appreciate it a great deal more than I would have had it come easily. I think that for me--specifically--it was just what I needed to find peace on the hard days of mothering.

@Emily: I know what you mean. Birth stories are always, ALWAYS, exchanged when moms get together. I always try to keep in mind that I, and my babies, have a birth story, too. And maybe it doesn't include dialation, or episiotomies, or pitosin, but it does not negate the reality of my journey to becoming a mom. It is just a different path, that's all. And that became all the clearer when after two adoptions I was able to carry a child thanks to medical intervention. What was most interesting to me was that the FEELINGS while expecting ALL of my children was exactly the same. Exactly. One journey was physically draining, the other was emotionally draining, but the feelings of love, expectation, worry, anticipation, excitement were exactly the same. And when they placed that baby in my arms, I did what I did with my other two: I wept and fell completely, hopelessly in love. And it is those feelings, those commitments, that make us mothers. You are a mother. No doubt about it.

Avalon said...

Thank you for this post. We have been trying for 2 1/2 years and have had two miscarriages. It is the hardest thing that I have ever gone through. While I want so badly to be able to experience having my own biological child, the thought of adoption is always at the back of my mind. It is harder for me to think that it will happen because my husband grew up with a sister that was adopted and she had so many problems because her birth mother did drugs while she was pregnant. His sister struggled her whole life with mental illness, and as a result his family had a lot of heartache with her. Before we realized that we had problems, he always said that we would never adopt because he had only seen problems from children that were adopted (his cousin was adopted as well and has some serious struggles). I think he is opening his eyes to it a little more, but it's crushing month after month knowing that your body is not doing what it should and then having doubts about whether you will be able to adopt. So thank you for your post. It helped me a lot. I would be interested to learn about how you went about the adoption process.

cindy baldwin said...

Thank you SO much for sharing your story. My husband and I have had to wait longer than most of our friends for kids due to health problems on my part, and while we are now almost to the point of being ready to start trying to get pregnant, we also anticipate running into at least some fertility problems. I have had that feeling of "Why is it so easy for everyone around us, when it is so hard for us???"

Obviously, we're very interested in adoption. My question would be - how did you deal with the sense of betrayal by your body? How do you feel, now, when your friends sit down and talk about pregnancy? Are these things no longer an issue now that you have your wonderful children, or are they still difficult?

Amy Jean said...

I love Kate and her story. What I love about infertility stories is that each person's is so unique and yet there's common threads that pull us all together. My journey was 3 attempts of IVF that eventually led to twins, but I am a huge fan of adoption and am so happy for those that go down that path.

For anyone wanting to read more about dealing with infertility, there is a great blog here:

trustinoursavior.blogspot.com

Jenn said...

I was so shocked when I saw your post this morning because I have "My journey to Motherhood" scheduled to post next week on my blog! Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sure, like me, you want to help anyone you can. I feel that if I can help someone else then the pain I went through will have a deeper meaning. I hope you don't mind if I put a link in my post over here to yours. Mine only goes as far as IVF so I'd love to have a link over to an adoption story.

S said...

This is just beautiful and brought me to tears. Thank you so much for sharing. I know I want to be sensitive to those with fertility struggles just as much as I would want them to be sensitive to my struggles. A family gets it start in so many different way and there really isn't a right way. Your family is beautiful!

bjahlstrom said...

I am currently infertile, as well, and am always interested to hear others' stories. All the sample questions you mentioned would be so wonderful to hear your opinions on!

Mrs. Cropper said...

Thank you for this, Kate. I love your story. I hope that as you share your 'guide to adoptive parents' you will share some more of the details of your story. It was amazing to watch you go through this. Your growth and strength and faith were awe-inspiring and I learned SO MUCH from you.

I loved Laurel's comment! Every one has a different 'birth story,' but certainly everyone has one. I thought of you, Kate, as I wrote last time about having Jared Carter placed in my arms. As I was writing that I thought about how some people's babies are placed in their arms after a C-section or by a birth mother. They are all different experiences, but all miraculous.

Kate, thank you for sharing this with everyone. How beautiful what Jen said--that you are an ambassador for potentially adoptive parents. Love that!

xo
anne

Megan said...

Kate, I have a neighbor who just adopted a baby and I would love to know from your perspective how to be loving and sensitive to her situation. Are there things to be careful not to say? Or things to be sure I do say?

amiracle4us said...

This made my night. My husband and I have been trying for 3 1/2 years and are about to embark on IVF #2.5 and all I can think of is 'what if'.

Hearing positive, hopeful and happy adoption stories gives me peace and hope for our future. I would love to know more about your story...how did you decide on an agency? Was your husband on board with adoption at first? Where you? how did you know it was for you?

Thank you for this post....anglmoira@mac.com

families are forever said...

What a wonderful family!!!

A Bride In Boots said...

I don't know whether it's hormones or the simple beauty and purity of this post, but this brought me to tears. I am an adoptee, and now 18 weeks pregant with my first child. Being pregnant and going through all the emotions my mother must have felt is surreal - but the idea of adopting truly shows how selfish she was. My adoption was closed so I have no information on my birthparents, but have been blessed with the most wonderful adoptive parents and can't imagine it any either way. If I had an opportunity to meet my birth mother, I would simply tell her thank you. And I'm sure your precious children will one day think about doing the same. Families are families regardless of how they come into place. And yours is a beautiful and lucky one.

The Parkers said...

Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. It is a topic that has slowly emerged out of the shadows and I think so many women are relieved and thankful to finally not feel so alone in this area.

With my son, I got pregnant right away and so I thought getting pregnant next time round would be super easy. Not so much. We have been trying for 18 months and no luck. My fertility moniter and cycle lengths are proving that I am just not ovulating anymore and we have recently started using Clomid to help. Surprisingly I have stayed pretty optimisitc through this process, knowing that stress would only make it worse, but this month I reached my limit of patience. This last negative pregnancy test hit me hard and has left me in a sad heap on the bed. Month after month of no success is taking it's toll on me.

My son is now 41/2 and everyday I feel sad that he doesn't have a sibling to play with. Everyday he tells me how badly he wants a boy baby or a girl baby and it breaks my heart. Knowing that he will be an only child, at least for a while, is the hardest part. And I know that if we do eventually get pregnant my son will be at least 5 or 6 by the time we bring a new baby into the house...such a big age gap. sigh. But I do believe that everything happens for a reason and I'm trying to remain optomistic and grateful....especially for my son I already have.

I would love to learn anything and everything you have to share on adoption. It is definitely a path we are considering going down in the next year. Thank you for this post and for your insight into the adotion and infertility world. I would love to hear more!

Heather said...

Such a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing. Your kids are absolutely adorable!

Kristyn said...

I'm with Megan, I almost don't know what to say! I don't mean to sound foolish, but when a friend was mentioing her infertility probs to me for the first time I'm sure I was a babbling fool falling all over myself. What's the best response to when you first find out?

Heidi @ Budget Wise Home said...

What a touching story to read. Thanks for sharing such personal things and for inspiring me!

Debra said...

My youngest sister is adopted. A few years before she came to be with us, my parents were chosen by another birth mother. I remember how devastated our whole family was when it fell through. LDS Family services suggested my parents go the Foster Care route.It is so interesting for me to look back and see the Lord's hand. If my parents had adopted the first little girl, they never would have been looking when my sister came around. If the first baby had come through my parents wouldn't have helped more than 20 children, with many of them eventually being able to return hope to their parents.
In a way, that difficult journey was a blessing because I can't imagine what my life would be like without Amy. Since it took so long for her to come to us, I am much older than she is, by about 15 years, so I never thought we would be close by I have to say the complete opposite is true.

annie moffat karcher said...

Kate, I love to hear your story it never gets dull for me and helps me with my birth with Lydia and how fortunate I am to have been able to conceive and carry her for nine months (however painful it was.) More importantly I love you as my older and much wiser sister and your little munchkins. I can't wait for the next time we see each other!

cami said...

Thanks for sharing your story. My husband and I have been approved for adoption through LDSFS for just a little under a month now. I am hoping it will be a quick process but i know the Lord is teaching me patience. We have been trying for 3 1/2 years now and have had 3 miscarriages but all these experiences have really strengthend my character and made me realize I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. Thank you for sharing your experience. It gives me hope! (:

Laura said...

I was just trying to look up how to make some cute bunting and now I'm crying. I loved your post on adoption. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for over 3 years and adoption is something that I am considering. I have so many reservations about it, but reading this and all the comments makes me more open to the idea. It's hard to let go of the pregnancy experience, but it comes down to being a mother and loving a baby no matter how that baby comes into our lives. I'm so glad I stumbled upon this post.