Here's something I have been struggling with for a long time. To post or not to post?
One day I convince myself that it is not something I need to share with the Internet and that these feelings will pass and I'm just having an off day.
The next day(or the next hour) I'm feeling like I need to get it out or I'm going to explode and this is my blog and why shouldn't I write about it?
Repeat those two scenarios many times over and that brings you to where I am now.
I'm not even sure I can form coherent thoughts on this topic right now, but it has been bothering me so much lately that I have to try. So here goes.
The doubts started one day at work. When I schedule appointments for patients that come in I am usually looking about five or six weeks ahead. For the most part. But sometimes patients only need to come in every six months. So I have to look at the calendar and see what month that would put us into.
This month it happens to put us into January. My birthday is in January. I'm going to be 38. In 6 short months. For some reason I started kind of obsessing over this fact.
I'm going to be 38 years old. Soon.
And, at the age of 38, I am not(nor will I be), a Mother.
I feel so many emotions when I type that sentence.
Sadness. Anger. Confusion. Disappointment. Disbelief.
In order to get where I need to go I have to start at the beginning. It's going to be long but it's something I have been wanting to get out on paper for a long time, so feel free to skip to the end if you get bored.
I got married young. 22 years old. We knew we wanted kids. We talked about it from our very first date(when I was 18!). I wanted two. Joe wanted three. I figured we could hash that part out later. What was important was that we both agreed. We wanted kids. O.K., Good. We're on the same page.
We also knew we were way too young to have kids right away. We weren't ready. We would wait.
So we waited. 8 years went by. Life happened. Other people we knew got married, divorced, had kids. My Mom died. At that time I was so much in the throes of grief that I could barely take care of myself, let alone another little person. So we continued to wait.
Then, my sister got pregnant. My twin sister. My only sister. I wasn't sure if we were ready or not, but I knew I wanted our kids to be similar in age. That's all I ever wanted. For my children to have a close bond with their cousins. They would be best friends! They would grow up together and call each other on the phone and have sleep overs and everything would be perfect.
So we started trying. I'll never forget the day we threw out my birth control pills. We were giddy with excitement. This was it! We were going to start a family. I was 31. Joe was 33.
It was Memorial Day weekend and we took a road trip to visit my sister and Scott in Millbrae and we waited until they went to bed and we did it on an inflatable air mattress on their living room floor. (Sorry Lisa)
We knew we might not have an easy time getting pregnant. I had been diagnosed with endometriosis ten years earlier(although we did not know the severity of it at that time), and had a fibroid tumor. I had undergone two surgeries to try and correct it at this point. We weren't expecting it to happen on the first try. We knew it could take up to a year for it to happen. We were okay with that.
We also knew we couldn't just leave it up to chance every month. So from day one we did things to maximize our chances. I'm going to spare you the details of those methods, because some of them are things you don't want to envision us doing :) If you have been through infertility, you know what I'm talking about.
What I'm trying to get across it that we never had that carefree "let's see what happens" period of time. No. From day one there were ovulation tests to take, and temperatures to chart, and other stuff that is just plain gross so I'll leave it out. Every single month.
The first six to seven months were fairly uneventful. I was relatively non-stressed about the whole thing. Stop laughing. I was!
Around our eighth month of trying I had a very painful cycle. This was not unusual for me, due to the endo, but this entire cycle was simply awful. From ovulation to the day I was due to start my period I was in constant, stabbing pain. I was also five days late. This was highly unusual for me, but I truly thought nothing of it. Pregnancy wasn't even a blip on our radar. I hadn't started taking pregnancy tests at this point and it never even crossed my mind.
Finally on the sixth day I started spotting and the pain was so unbearable that I called in sick to work and drove myself to the doctor. The endo had sent me to the E.R. on more than one occasion and I really only went just to get some pain meds.
The exam was very painful. I cried during and wished I had brought Joe with me. Usually he would have been there but it was an impromptu visit and he was at work and I didn't even think to ask him to come with me. I just wanted someone to stop the pain.
My doctor was cold and uncaring. I knew this about her already but she had performed one of my surgeries and I felt some kind of loyalty to her so I continued to see her. I'm weird like that. Or stupid. You choose.
Anyway, she performed the exam and before I could even get out of the stirrups and into a sitting position on the table she said "It appears that you were pregnant, but you aren't anymore."
That's it. That's all she said. I was dazed and in shock. I don't think I even responded to her. I just stared at her with this blank look on my face, trying to understand.
Then she told me if the pain and bleeding didn't go away after four days to call her or go to the E.R. I think she also warned me that the bleeding would be heavy. I can't remember.
She told me I could get dressed and she left the room.
I was stunned. I just sat there in silence. The possibility of me being pregnant hadn't even occurred to me. (I know that might seem strange to you, because we were, after all, trying to get pregnant, but I thought it would take at least a year).
As I got up to get dressed and to wash my hands, I saw the speculum laying in the sink, covered in blood. Covered in blood and...................human tissue. I have no other way to describe it. That's what it looked like.
She left it lying there in the sink. For me to see. Like it was nothing.
I didn't see her on the way out. I don't even think I checked out at the desk. I didn't pay my co-pay or make a follow up appointment. I just stumbled out to my car, in a daze, and I never went back.
I spent the weekend in bed with a heating pad on my stomach changing out Maxi pads every half hour. Joe took the weekend off and laid with me in bed and brought me food and pain pills. We didn't talk about what had happened. We didn't say the word miscarriage or talk about "the baby". We kind of acted like I was just having a really bad cycle.
By Monday the bleeding had slowed and most of the pain had subsided. I went back to work and never told anyone there what happened. My sister was the only one I called and told that weekend. But still it was with a sense of detachment. I simply told her that I had been pregnant(for a very short time), but I hadn't known about it, and now it was over.
Joe and I talked about it later, but I must have been in a state of denial because I wasn't sad and we both agreed that at least now we knew I could get pregnant. It may not have worked out this time, but if it happened once it could happen again. Right?
I don't think I ever grieved that loss. To this day. It was such a whirlwind and I never saw the two pink lines and I never got to tell anyone "I'm pregnant." It was over before it even began.
So we soldiered on and kept trying. We didn't even take a couple of months off, like you're supposed to. We just kept trying.
And trying. And trying. Years passed. We didn't miss one single month of trying.
Not. One. Month.
For five years. That's 60 tries for those of you keeping track. Nothing happened.
I started to lose hope. I had a third surgery for the endo, as well as countless infertility treatments. (Although we never tried In Vitro. We didn't have the money)
Yet we continued to try.
During this time my sister and her husband announced that they were planning on adopting a baby from China. They started their paperwork in late summer of 2003. They were DTC in December of that year. In June of 2004,(Yeah. 6 months) they received the referral of a beautiful baby girl. Our Gracie. Two months later they travelled to China to be united with her.
I travelled to China to meet up with my sister and family and to welcome the newest addition of our family. It seemed fit, as I was in the delivery room when my nephew was born and I wanted to have that connection with my niece.
Being in China was an amazing experience. While I was there I began having feelings that maybe this was something we could do. I recall talking to Joe on my cell phone in my hotel room, in the middle of the day for me, but in the wee hours of the morning for him. I woke him up many times that week, telling him every detail of my trip, and about China, but mostly about the babies. All of the beautiful babies that the families travelling with us had adopted. My cell phone bill for that week was $700.00. At the farewell party in China, while the families celebrated their last night with music and dancing and Rice wine, I went into the bathroom and cried. I wanted to be one of those families. I wanted to celebrate having a new baby. When would it be me? When was it our turn?
I returned home from China and life returned to normal. Whatever that was. Except I didn't have the drive to keep trying to get pregnant. Instead of hounding Joe with the exact dates of my cycle and what were the perfect days to "try", I stopped keeping track at all. I even started lying to him about when those times were. If he asked I told him I forgot. Or that I didn't feel good and maybe we should skip this month.
I was tired and burnt out and ready to just give up. I joined a therapy group to help me deal with the anger and sadness I was feeling. I began to give serious thought to living our lives "child free".
While all this was happening, the endometriosis came back with a vengeance. I was in severe pain. The pain became unbearable. It was ruining my quality of life. It got to the point where all I could do was go to work(and leave early almost daily), and come home and and get into a warm bath.
I had to live my life in two week intervals. The two weeks that I felt good we would try to squeeze as much out of life as possible, knowing that when it ended I would be confined to our apartment for two weeks. It was a vicious cycle.
My doctor (again) suggested a hysterectomy. I balked.
I prayed over it. I agonized over it. I agonized over it some more. Was it the right thing to do?
Joe and I talked it over and agreed that this was no way for me to live. It was decided that Yes, I would have the hysterectomy.
So in May of 2007 I had the operation to remove my ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes. It was done. The decision had been made. There would be no biological children for us.
I felt like a failure. I grieved the loss of my uterus far more than I grieved the loss of that pregnancy.
And even though I was grieving I still felt like God had a plan for us. We were meant to have children. I knew this deep down in my soul. I just didn't know how.
I began to think more about China. Was that something we could do? Was this the answer to our prayers?I talked it over with Joe. He was on board from the very beginning. No questions, no doubts. Just "Lets' do it".
I started doing research and realized that we did meet all of the requirements. Except for one. We didn't have the initial lump sum of money that would be required to get our paperwork in order and submit it to China for consideration.
Then my Dad stepped in and offered to help. For the first time in a long time I felt Hope. This could happen! We applied to agencies. For the first time ever I began to look at baby stuff in the stores. I even bought a couple of items. Small things, but baby stuff nonetheless. This felt real.
We started jumping through the required hoops and gathering the needed information.
Birth certificates(not easy to get, being adopted myself)
Marriage certificates(also not easy, as we were married in Nevada, not in CA were we resided)
That was our first roadblock. My medical physical. My bloodwork kept coming back "abnormal" I had to have tests done. And then more tests done. I had to go to doctor after doctor after doctor. No one could find out what was wrong. And yet my doctor would not sign off on my medical form. We were in Limbo, yet again.
I was discouraged. Why couldn't anything be easy for us? I thought this was a sign.
But Joe was determined. We kept going to doctors, trying to find out why my bloodwork was "abnormal".
Eventually we ended up at the Nephrologist(a kidney doctor). He said that something was wrong, but he couldn't tell what it was until I had a kidney biopsy.
I was afraid. What if something was terribly wrong? I also was afraid of the procedure itself, but honestly, when you have had as many procedures and surgeries as I had by that time, you learn to suck it up and go with the flow. I went ahead and had the biopsy.
A week later we sat in the nephrologist's office for the diagnosis. I had a rare form of degenerative kidney disease. There was no cure. My kidneys would slowly deteriorate over time, and the chances that I would need a kidney transplant in 5-7 years was 60%
We were devastated. We were certain we would not be able to continue with the adoption process. The paperchase came to a halt. We isolated ourselves to lick our wounds and regroup.
I remember thinking that this was a sign. A sign that we weren't meant to have kids. Biological or adopted. It wasn't meant to be. This was not God's plan for us either. I was devastated. I became depressed and angry. I wanted to curl up into a ball and never leave my bed.
Joe refused to give up. He talked to our adoption agency, and my doctors trying to figure out what to do to get that medical form signed off.
Our agency told us we needed to have the nephrologist write a letter regarding the current state of my health and the long term prognosis. They gave us very specific wording to use, and exactly what the letter needed to say.
Joe talked to my doctor on the phone. Multiple times. He faxed them samples of the letter we needed written.
My doctor wouldn't sign it. There was one line in the letter that he said he did not feel comfortable with. It was one of the lines that the adoption agency said we must have included.
(I'm not going to disclose what that line was. I have to protect myself).
Joe re-wrote the letter multiple times, and included a heartfelt letter stating our circumstances and how this letter could be the deciding factor on whether or not we would be able to have children.
The doctor had a change of heart and signed the letter. We submitted it to our agency and they approved. We were ecstatic. We finished the rest of our paperwork(called a dossier) and submitted it to our agency.
Soon we were "DTC"(Dossier to China) and a short 3 weeks later we had our "LID"(Log in Date).
The show was officially on the road. Again, I had Hope. We started decorating the nursery. We talked about Sophie all the time. We said things like "When Sophie comes home....." and
"Next Christmas when Sophie is here....."
I threw myself whole heartedly into all things adoption related and joined several adoption groups. I participated in secret buddy swaps and sent and received adorable baby stuff in the mail every month. I lived for "rumors" surrounding the state of adoptions in China, and how many days worth of referrals that were put out each month.
I got much more involved in Blogging and even met some of my favorite bloggers.
We knew we were in for a long wait. The letter our agency sent when we were DTC stated a 12-18 month wait. We were well aware that the China had slowed down the processing of dossiers. . We were okay with that. It gave us time to prepare. It was assumed(by the whole adoption community-not just us) that they would speed back up again, like they had in the past. Each month that went by I felt closer to our child.
But China didn't speed up the process. In fact, they slowed almost to a stop, referring only two days in one month.
Every month I got my hopes up and every month I was disappointed. It started to feel very reminiscent of the days when we were trying to conceive. A period of hope, when I ovulated, followed by heartbreak every month when I would start my period and find I once again was not pregnant.
I started to emotionally withdraw from the adoption wait. I stopped participating in the swaps and didn't visit the adoption groups anymore. I stopped following the rumors.
Then China changed the rules and we realized we no longer qualify to adopt from them. Although we are told that we will be grandfathered in under the old rules, and we did make it through the review room, people have been turned down in the matching room(the last step before they refer you a child). We were scared.
It was starting to feel like there was a chance that maybe this wasn't going to happen.
That brings me to where I am now, and the whole point of this post. Sorry it took me so long to get here. If you have followed along this far, bless you.
If current trends in China adoption continue, we could wait another 2 years(or longer) before we see our child's face. We have already waited 21 months.
Lately I have been having very conflicting feelings. I no longer have that sense of Hope.
Now I find myself fearing for the worst, but hoping for the best. I think I'm trying to prepare myself for the chance that this might not work out.
We don't talk about her anymore. We don't say things like "When Sophie comes home", because we really don't have any idea of when that might be.
We closed the door to the nursery and we don't go in there. Although Joe still keeps the light on for her.
There have been times in the last year that I have been glad that we don't have a child. Job losses. Depression. Financial difficulties. Marital problems.
And lately I have been full of doubts.
What if we don't make good parents?
What if we can't provide financially for a child? We are starting to get back on our feet, slowly, but the economy is tough right now. What if Joe loses his job again?
What if my health takes a turn for the worse and I need to have a kidney transplant?
Will I get enough sleep? The kidney disease I have requires plenty of rest or I become sick.
Is it fair to raise a child in a small apartment, with no backyard?
Will I be too old to chase after a toddler?
Have we been married so long(15 years) that the adjustment of adding a child will put a strain on our marriage that is too great?
The list goes on and on(and on).
I think the most frightening part of the whole thing is that I have actually been giving serious thought to what our lives would be like without children. I'm starting to get used to that idea, something I never gave thought to before.
It's getting harder and harder to imagine our lives with a child in it.
In the past, not having children wasn't even in the equation. It simply wasn't an option.
We were supposed to have children. I felt it. I knew it.
Now I don't feel or know anything except that this road to parenthood has been unbearably long and heartbreaking and I find that I am losing Faith.
And it is a terrible, lonely feeling.
In January it will be 8 years that we have been on this rollercoaster and I am ashamed to say that I'm not sure how much longer I can ride it.
Everyone tells me that all of this anguish disappears the moment you hold your child in your arms for the first time. It simply melts away. I believe that to be true.
What I'm having a hard time believing is that we will ever get to that point.
**We are NOT pulling out of the program. We will continue to wait and see what happens. We have no other choice. You can go ahead and bash me for having these doubts if you want to, but I won' t post anonymous comments here. They will be deleted. Feel free to e-mail me with your judgements regarding our financial situation or what terrible parents we will make at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have no problem with criticism. I do ask, however, that you have the courage to put your name on it. Thanks. **