Sunday, August 25, 2013

The next steps

This post will not be as long, I promise. Just want to give a brief outline of the next few steps we have to take.

Step 1: Sign our contract. We are hoping to do that in October. We have to save the contract fee first, which we are working on. We are having a yard sale fundraiser September 6/7 to go toward that cost.

Step 2: Once contract is signed, attend 2 day adoption workshop which will outline the entire adoption process, give us an overview of the homestudy process, answer all questions, address concerns, etc.

Step 3: Start and complete homestudy. This can take up to approximately 3 months. We are most anxious about this step. We have to have an approved homestudy before any birthmothers can choose us; before we can even have a profile with the agency.

Step 4: Once homestudy is approved, profile goes live on adoption agencies website. We get a 1-800 number. Birthmothers can contact us, or the agency about us, and hopefully we will be matched sooner rather than later (the whole process from signing the contract to finalizing an adoption can take anywhere from about 15-36 months on average).

Step 5: Birthmother chooses us and we bring baby home. Hey, whether this takes a year or three we will be parents at the end.

So, of course there is a lot more to this. Many more steps. Risks and complications. Disappointments and waiting. But if there is one thing my infertility and losses have taught me, it's that I can handle those things and come out stronger. And Dan and I can do it all together.

Big Decisions leading up to the biggest decision...This will be a two parter

While dealing with infertility and recurrent miscarriage, Dan and I have had to make some very big decisions. Some very difficult decisions. Nothing was ever easy. Nothing was ever quick. I mean, these were life altering decisions that had a huge impact on our future, on our finances, on our marriage, on our health. When we first started out, the only decision we had to make was do we want kids, and the answer was yes. After a few years of trying and failing, we were kind of at a standstill. Now, I can't speak for Dan, but in my mind at that time, I was willing to go through pretty much anything the dr told me would make me a mom. At first, it was just some medications. Pretty simple. A few pills and some bloodwork. And then when that didn't work, my dr told me he couldn't help me any further. I would have to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Getting Dan on board with that took some time. I think the stress of having to travel and going to someone who specialized in infertility was scary. And uncertain. And kind of insulting. But we did it. At the time we went to see the RE, I had experienced two miscarriages, we had been trying to have children for 2 years, and I had been diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder, which was part of what the doctors thought was making it difficult for me to get and stay pregnant.

The RE was confident he could help us with a procedure known as an IUI (intrauterine insemination). So, we had to decide if we would be willing to subject ourselves to a procedure that would require me to go on hormone injections (not fun and kind of painful) to stimulate my ovaries and hopefully increase egg production. I would have to be monitored by ultra sound regularly to make sure follicles were growing, and when they got to the right size, we would have to go in for an insemination. So, making a baby was no longer Sara+Dan. It was Sara+Dan+medication+Reproductive Endocrinologist=maybe baby. Because there was no guarantee it would work. This was not a cheap procedure and it was not cheap medication (although I have an amazing friend who helped me with that, and she knows who she is). So there was this heavy weight on our shoulders. What if the procedure didn't work? What if we were out all of that money and didn't have a baby? Insurance is a crock and didn't cover anything related to infertility. Because "having a baby isn't a medical necessity". So, it had to work. We had a good chance.

And it worked. I got pregnant. All of that money, all of those medications, the doctors, the travelling; it had all been worth it. This was March of 2011. We went in for our ultra-sound. So exciting. We would get to see our baby for the first time. No such luck. The dr said we would have to come back in a few weeks, he couldn't find what he was looking for. In other words, I had gotten pregnant, but the baby stopped developing. And about 2 or 3 weeks after that I miscarried. That was the most DEVASTATING thing I had ever been through. And I will spare you the details, but I would never be the same after that. The dr recommended another IUI, but we weren't ready to jump back in and took some time to think about what was best. We thought eventually we would try another IUI because the first one worked. But as more time passed, even though Dan said he would be supportive of one more try at IUI, I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I couldn't imagine going through all of that again and it either not working, or worse, it working and me miscarrying again.

We decided to just be us again for a while. We planned a trip to Vegas for my 30th birthday in 2012. Amazingly, in February of 2012, I got pregnant. But it was short lived. We found out on Super Bowl Sunday and I miscarried later that week. So, another set back. That was my 4th miscarriage. Many people said to me, "Look at the bright side, at least you know you can get pregnant". Didn't do much good if I couldn't stay pregnant. Another year went by and around my birthday this year, I decided I was ready to try another IUI. Dan was still supportive. I was feeling good emotionally and had lost 30 pounds (which I thought would make a difference, for some reason). We had saved a little money and the dr thought we had a good chance of being successful. As I was making arrangements for the procedure, we got a surprise. I had become pregnant on my own again. But immediately I knew this pregnancy was not going to make it either. I was already bleeding when the dr confirmed the pregnancy. I was so ANGRY. Angry that I had gotten pregnant, angry that I had miscarried, angry that I didn't get to be happy for even a minute.

That miscarriage changed everything. We had lost 4 pregnancies before that, and they all took a little piece of me. But this miscarriage took the last little bit of hope that I had. And I decided right then, I would not subject myself to another IUI, let alone IVF (which would have been the next step). We had already decided we would not ever pursue IVF anyway simply because of the cost and the emotional damage it could do. I had met several women who were 10s of thousands of dollars in debt (one was $100,000) with nothing to show. I decided that I had to learn how to start coming to terms with the reality that I may never be a mother. People are happy and can be happy and fulfilled without children. How could I make myself one of those people? Dan always told me if we never had children, he would be happy with just the two of us the rest of his life.

And just when I thought that was it, Dan said the most amazing, wonderful, surprising words that I never thought I would hear him say, "Maybe we should look into adoption. Why don't you get some information". That was what led to the biggest decision yet and leads me into my next blog post...

The adoption option

Throughout our struggle with infertility and miscarriage, adoption was something that was brought up a few times. And I will spare you the details, but for those of you who asked or wondered, "Why don't they just adopt", it was never that simple. Of course we knew adoption was an option. As with most individuals or couples who struggle with infertility, we were well aware of all of our options. We just didn't want to rush into something we weren't ready for, or feel pressured to do something that may not have been the right choice for us. Treatment plans, medications, doctors, infertility, adoption; it is all very personal, and each person who struggles has their own timeline and their own boundries. And the truth is, that sometimes, even a husband and wife aren't on the same page about those things.

The journey through infertility has been complicated, long, emotional, expensive, and overwhelming (to say the least). The thought of moving onto adoption, which is in its own right, is complicated, long, emotional, expensive and overwhelming was something we definitely had to be on the same page about. We could not easily transition from one path to the other, in part because it felt like giving up on something we had been trying to make happen for so long, but also because it was scary. Adoption would come with a new set of challenges, fears, disappointments, etc.

Adoption was never a new idea. But for me, I had to come to the realization that even though I so desperately wanted to be pregnant and have that experience, and create a life with my husband, what I wanted most was to be a mom. And what made me come to that realization was my most recent miscarriage. After 5, I finally acknowledged we were (most likely) never going to have children the way we were trying. The doctors couldn't help me. The medications couldn't help me. My body just couldn't carry a baby. And getting pregnant did no good if I couldn't stay pregnant. And I was so sad. I lost the last little bit of hope I had that I would ever be a mom, or that Dan would ever be a dad, or that we would raise children together. And what happened next, just when I was giving up, shocked me. About 2 months after my miscarriage, Dan simply said to me, "Maybe we should look into adoption". It was something to that effect, and it was all I needed to hear. Those were some of the most beautiful, thougthful, selfless words he had ever spoken to me. By the next day I had looked into 3 agencies, researched open vs. closed adoption, looked at agency vs. lawyer, cost, funding, etc. Dan and I went to an info session with an agency the following month and decided after we left that was the agency for us and this was the new plan for us. And we were at peace about moving forward with our plan to adopt. In the first paragraph of this entry I stated that a husband and wife aren't always on the same page, and for a long time we weren't. And now we are very much on the same page, and what an exciting page it is.

Something that I had to realize when moving onto this new chapter is that it does not erase everything else we have been through. Adoption does not fix my infertility. Adoption is not us giving up on one plan. It is just giving us the opportunity to pursue parenthood in a different way, and that I am grateful for. I will keep you updated on our journey with the adoption option.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Not everything is about IF

I have the most amazing news to share. Last night I met someone who I never thought I would meet; my biological sister. I found out about her when I was about 12. My mom told me I had a younger sister that she placed for adoption at birth. We always talked about her and she was always a part of our life. But, we knew that it would not be our place to search her out and invade her life. My mom registered our information several years ago so it would be available if my sister ever wanted to find us, and even though I hoped and prayed almost my entire life she would want to find us, I never thought she would.

Yesterday was the best day of my life since I married my husband. It was one of the best days of my life ever. I hugged my sister for the first time last night and I didn't want to let her go. She is beautiful and amazing and I cannot wait to get to know more about her. We have almost 30 years to make up for. There will be more to this story. I am so excited for this chapter of my life.