Infertility Tales 2014: In Closing

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Our goal for this week’s Infertility Tales was to bring attention to those around us who are contending with infertility. It is a topic that many infertile couples are unprepared to discuss openly, often with good reason.

We hope that you will take a moment to read the stories that these women have told here. (And one man. Thank you, Chris!) They have bared their hearts to us, and we are grateful.

Some of these infertility journeys lasted only months, others the better part of a decade. We’ve read of couples progressing through less invasive fertility methods, like IUI, through to IVF, even with ICSI. These acronyms giving you a headache? Then check out our overview of infertility terminology.

We’ve read some truly exquisite descriptions of the emotions that accompany infertility, and humbling displays of grace. And there’s been humour too!

Those of us whose babies came to us easily have a lot to be grateful for. If we don’t know what it’s like to go through Mothers’ Day aching for the loss of a child, we have a lot to be grateful for. If we’ve never been faced with an unthinkable choice on the realization of our dreams, we have a lot to be grateful for.

Every story here has been one of eventual parenthood, whether it’s from those currently expecting through the gifts of surrogacy or embryo donation, planned or surprise adoption, or even IVF quadruplets. Please remember that there are many mothers- and fathers-at-heart who aren’t there yet, who may never be parents in the legal sense. Be good friends to them too.

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Liz’s Story, Continued: Finally Expecting After Embryo Adoption — 10 Things I Didn’t Expect

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Liz reflects on being pregnant, thanks to embryo adoption, after extended infertility. This post was originally published on her blog, Wishing on a Snowflake.

I spent some time reading through my blog from my very first blog post back in 2012. I found myself thinking about all of the incredible things that pregnancy has brought me, much of which has surpassed my dreams.

It was emotional going through some of the very dark posts, but doing so makes these wonderful moments today that much sweeter. It got me reflecting about some of the things I expected to happen and feel when I was pregnant, and how the reality turned out to be different in some cases. This isn’t a bad thing, just an observation about how I had no idea how the pregnant-me would feel in a lot of ways.

Pregnancy with embryo adoption has its own set of surprises.

Some of these are lighthearted, some are not. But NONE on this list are complaints – just reflections about how the reality of pregnancy isn’t what I had pictured it would be while dealing with infertility.

  1. I expected to live every day in fear. I really can’t believe this, but I’m not fearful. Sure, I have moments where I worry about Sammy surviving or that we might get some heartbreaking news. But it’s not gnawing away at me during every moment of every day like I pictured it would. I think that part of this is because I’m intentionally shoving any scary thoughts to the side and purposefully focusing on what we have today. I don’t live in the “what IFs”, I live in the “what AREs.” I’m only drifting my thoughts to the future if it’s in a positive way. I am grateful to God because my mental state is such a polar opposite compared to when I was trying to become pregnant.
  2. I expected I’d have lots of pregnancy-related complications by now. Before getting pregnant I had elevated blood pressure and insulin resistance. I am gluten intolerant and have MTHFR mutation. Heck, I even have a fairly rare infertility diagnosis and suffered two devastating miscarriages. I figured I’d always draw the unlucky card, even if I was lucky enough to get pregnant. Even believing that, I didn’t care and was willing to do whatever it took to bring a baby home. But to my surprise, I’ve had been blessed to have a very easy pregnancy. I know it’s not easy for everyone, and I acknowledge how hard it must be to have complications. I also know I’m not out of the woods yet. But I’m beyond grateful I’ve made it this far with nothing serious.
  3. I expected pregnancy to be full of cravings. I was sure I’d be chowing down rocky road ice cream, German chocolate cake, and would be sending Kevin to the store at 2 am for some calorie-ridden craving. I did not expect to have such a tumultuous relationship with food. Sure, I figured first trimester to be rough followed by insatiable, weird cravings in second and third trimesters. But overall, I just hate food even to this day. I really don’t have any cravings to speak of. Well, maybe chocolate milk but that’s about it. Everything else pretty much sounds like sawdust to me. I love to eat normally, so this surprises me.
  4. I expected to gain a bunch of weight from the above mentioned expected cravings. But in fact, I’ve actually lost a pound. I have a good explanation to this one, aside from the fact I hate food. I had some extra padding to begin with! Women with my BMI tend to gain less during than other women who are thinner. For what it’s worth, My OB isn’t worried whatsoever because I am making a point to get nutritious (usually liquid) calories down whenever I can. I’m surprised to learn that this is pretty common!
  5. I expected baby kicks to feel like butterflies fluttering or popcorn popping. They don’t feel that way to me at all. I have had GI issues most of my life and have had my share of intestinal spasms. And hands down, to me baby kicks feel like intestinal spasms. They are so similar that they are nearly indiscernible from them, but I know that’s not what they are. It doesn’t change the fact that I find them just incredible!
  6. I never expected to have a recognizable baby bump. I expected to just look fat, not pregnant. As mentioned above, I’m not a tiny chick with a tiny body. I’m 5’11” and have some padding. I expected I’d go through pregnancy with everyone wondering if I just ate too many cupcakes or burritos. That didn’t bother me too much, but I secretly coveted the ladies who had obvious baby bumps. I figured that would never be my reality. But I’m shocked and elated how much this belly has rounded out and is obviously full of baby. I’ve even had a couple of strangers approach me in public and ask me when my due date was! I’m proud of my body for finally being kind to me in an unexpected way.
  7. I expected my parents to be involved. Before infertility, I always pictured my mom and dad being involved and excited about my pregnancy. Then weeks after being diagnosed with DOR in 2011, my mom died of cancer. I didn’t expect that and it sent a ripple through my world. After years of treatments and now I’m finally expecting I hoped at least my dad would be involved. Sadly, this one isn’t true. For reasons far too long to list here, my dad is distanced. This is a sad realization for me and not what I expected.
  8. I expected to still have difficulty with others who had children the “easy way.” No doubt infertility has forever changed me. But I have genuinely embraced all things baby, regardless of how they came to be. I thought a future-me would perhaps be capable of that someday, but I had no idea how quickly. This makes me proud of myself because it scared me thinking I’d hold onto some difficult feelings for so long. I’m so glad to finally feel somewhat normal again. I never EVER thought I’d feel 99% normal during pregnancy.
  9. I expected to be an advocate for embryo adoption. But I had no idea how passionate I’d become. Becoming pregnant has lit a fire in me that is impossible to put out. I shout about EA from the rooftops whenever I can. I am working on ways to get the word out on it whenever possible. I give the elevator speech at any opportunity. I want to help others who want to know more. This is to a degree I never imagined and I feel fulfilled to a degree I never would have imagined either.

And the one that will certainly make me cry. Yup, here come the tears, I feel them…

  1. I expected to love my baby, but I had absolutely no idea how much. I love her so much more than I ever thought was possible. I imagine every day what it will be like to hold her in my arms, to enjoy those gleeful moments on Christmas morning, and to have the soapy mohawks in the tub. I knew I would be in love, but my brain couldn’t comprehend it would be this much. And I’m sure I still have no idea to the degree I can ultimately love this little girl until I meet her and watch her grow.

This post was submitted by Liz.  Follow her inspiring story of pregnancy after infertility, embryo adoption, and loss at Wishing on a Snowflake.

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

What Lasts: Carter’s Song

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For years, Angela Bickford struggled through infertility and loss.  Angela is now the mother of triplets, born prematurely, one of whom, Carter, passed away after 49 days.  This song, originally published on her blog, pays beautiful tribute to the lasting impact of Carter’s short life.

Written and recorded by Jetty Rae
Slideshow photos provided by Angela Bickford

Never thought that it would come to this
I wake up in the middle of the night
And your face I long to kiss
Then I remember looking at you
On the other side of the glass
That night the Doctors said
You probably wouldn’t last

What lasts is the love left beating
In this Mother’s heart
The dreams all scattered down in tiny little parts
I will love you, I will love you
Sweet Child you are mine
You’re heaven sent and I’m hell-bent
On telling the world you are my little sunshine

Waking up each day without you
Is a hurt I’ll never shake
Leaving your body there was a choice
We never got to make
Carry on, carry on sweet child we all carry on
I see you in your brother’s eyes and I tell your sister
You were strong

What lasts is the love left beating
In your Father’s heart
The dreams all scattered down in tiny little parts
I will love you, I will love you
Sweet Child you are mine
You’re heaven sent and I’m hell-bent
On telling the world you are my little sunshine

So many days have come and gone
We’re still standing, we’re still strong
You have stayed where you belong
But in our hearts you will go on

Angela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business, her job at Hand to Hold, a non-profit dedicated to preemie/NICU awareness and support, and her personal blog ( Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress.

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Relaxation Does Not Cause Pregnancy

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I’ve heard my share of silly comments about being a mother of twins. You know what no one has ever said to me? “You must have been really relaxed to conceive two at once!”

So why do people feel the need to tell infertile women, “Just relax and it’ll happen!”?

Relaxation does not cause pregnancy. If it did, we’d have fertility spas and massage parlours, not clinics.

Just don't tell an infertile woman that the secret to getting pregnant is relaxing!Still, there seems to be this undeniable urge to respond to an infertile woman’s concerns about her inability to conceive with, “Relax and it will happen.”

I think it stems from our cultural discomfort with the idea of infertility. If the infertile woman stops talking to us about her infertility, we, her listeners, are the ones who get to relax. As long as we don’t hear about it, we don’t have to feel her anguish. After all, if she’s not talking about it, we don’t have to know about it. Infertility is silent as long as the infertile are silent.

“Relax and it will happen” silences those who try to speak out.

My challenge to you is to refuse to relax. Refuse to be silent. Own your infertility. Own your fertility. Fight for the motherhood you want. Mothers don’t relax when it comes to protecting their children. And mothers-at-heart don’t relax when it comes to making those children a reality.

Forget “Relax and it will happen”. Fight to make it happen.

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Candace and Chris, Continued: Our Misconception on Surrogacy

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Candace and Chris shared with us some insight into the his- and her- emotions of infertility earlier this week.  Here, their story continues…

If someone would have told us last year, or ever, for that matter, in our 7 long years of struggling to conceive that we would be using surrogacy as family building option, without a bat of an eye we would have said, “No way. No how.” Funny how life always seems to have those sudden rogue winds. It is that one unexpected burst that can have you sailing off course. Or maybe just maybe on the right course…

Before turning to IVF, 7 years ago we first tried the old fashioned way. You know, candlelight, good wine, soft jazz in the background. After dodging the questions by friends and family, we decided that the natural way was apparently not going to be our way. Due to some impatience and naïveté we adjusted the truth on how long we had been trying to conceive with the OB-GYN so we could rush into IUI treatments.  Naughty we know, but when you want something, the truth becomes kinda fuzzy.

So, here we go: IUI 1-Failed, IUI 2-Failed, IUI 3 with Clomid-Failed, Failed, Failed.

For those keeping track, at this point, we were at 6 failed IUIs and had been trying to conceive (truthfully) for 2 years. So, we did what any normal couple becoming increasingly desperate to start a family would do. We discussed kidney donation for fundraising purposes and rushed headlong into IVF.

We thought we did all the research we needed to do. Look at a few websites, grab a pamphlet, talk to someone that has done it before. We thought we were damn near experts. The doctors would tell us everything else we needed to know, right?  We even went as far as to go to 2 fertility clinics to get a second opinion. Man, we thought we were smart.

Commence IVF, or as we like to call it, hitting the iceberg.  All of our research was only the tip of what was truly laid in our path. That’s okay though, we had time to mull this over because the next daunting task was lots of painful testing to see what the hell was keeping us from producing our little bundle of joy. So, to streamline the story: screamingly painful tests, rushed training on how to administer injections (huge needles too!), sprinkle in 4 intermittent surgeries. Even with a significant number of great embryos, this approach failed … not once or twice … no, 6 times!

Candace and Chris of Our Misconception. They're expecting by gestational surrogate.

Remember that rogue wind I mentioned? The first burst was about a year ago when an MTV casting producer stumbled across our blog, Our Misconception. After hearing our story they asked us share our story on their show True LifeI’m Desperate to Have a Baby”. Not the most flattering of titles but not entirely inaccurate either.

Commence opening up every detail of our life as a childless, infertile couple. It was hard. Infertility is emotionally raw, painful and really touches on taboo topics that many don’t like to openly talk about. We took a leap of faith and exposed our needle-riddled journey with the world. We wanted others to know they were not alone in what they were experiencing. When we first started out we sat in silence not knowing if this is normal or why our bodies were broken. I mean, the ability to procreate is the most basic, primal and natural given ability right? We felt alone. Sharing our journey on camera gave us the opportunity to spread awareness, something we wish we had at the beginning of our path to parenthood.

The camera crew captured our last round of IVF, the news following it, and our pursuit to start adoption. Not all of this made it on the show, but they were there,cameras in tow, throughout our fight.

That is when the expected wind blew our way and threw us off the direction we had ‘thought’ was our destined one. Someone who we know had discovered through the electronic grapevine that is Facebook that we were adopting. Fate have it that she also had previously been a gestational carrier for another couple a few years prior. WOW, an option we thought was so far out of our reach. Really, before that point no one was willing to have cankles or additional stretch marks for the next 9 months for us. Not to mention how will we afford it? No nest egg, that was gone 4 IVF cycles ago, and we were under the misconception that only moguls and movie stars do surrogacy.

Surrogacy isn't out of reach!

It is amazing what reinstated hope and a little, OK, a lot of determination can do to help motivate you. We are well on our way after lots of fundraising, and now have a very pregnant gestational carrier. Surrogacy has given us a newfound hope, and we are eager to see what the future brings as we welcome our miracle into this world.

Follow Candace and Chris’ blog Our Misconception.

Watch MTV True Life: I’m Desperate to Have a Baby.

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Selective Reduction: Two Women, Two Views

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In the world of infertility, while everyone is focused on shots and ultrasounds and the two-week-wait, there are some decisions that no one likes to talk about. What if I end up with multiples? What if the fetus/baby is sick? What if…

Selective reduction. Two women pregnant with 3 babies chose differently, and neither would have it any other way.A multitude of things cross the minds of women once they see the positive pregnancy test, but this one – this one is probably the most controversial of all. Selective reduction isn’t something society likes to talk about, but it’s a real thing. It’s a real conversation that happens in pretty much every high-risk OB’s office or with the mother carrying multiple babies.

So, in all fairness, and since multiples are a ‘risk-factor’ when undergoing fertility treatments, the HDYDI team decided that if it came up this week, we’d cover it. We’d share with you in a nonjudgmental way. We’d share so that others going down this path know that it IS something you’ll be asked about. That it IS something you need to think about – no matter what your decision ends up being. And that no one – NO ONE – can make that choice but you, and whatever your choice ends up being, that as fellow women, infertiles, moms, etc. – you will find someone that supports you.

In the Grey: Shelby’s Perspective

Shelby pf A Mother to OneShelby is a public health consultant, author, and founder of A Mother to One, a website dedicated to support and information for women choosing selective reduction. She is the mother of a five-year-old, a military wife, and spends her free time traveling the world.

In the summer of 2008, I decided to terminate 2 of 3 fetuses in my womb. No, I didn’t walk into Starbucks and decide to walk into an abortion clinic following. It doesn’t work like that.

Here’s the how: During the spring of 2008, we opted to give IUI a try while my husband was deployed. Voilà, a positive pregnancy test! We were overjoyed beyond belief.

And then, two weeks later, this overwhelming joy was followed by one of the most terrifying moments of my life: a hysteria-inducing ultrasound that revealed three fetuses and caused my 6’4” RE’s face to turn a shade of white I’ve never seen. There’s nothing pretty about vomiting during a vaginal ultrasound, and the sheer terror that plagued me that day is not something easily forgotten.

I knew within moments of hearing, “There are three. We need to talk,” what I would do; my mind had been made up nearly two years prior in a what-if discussion with my husband. The risks were just too much for me to fathom: 40% rate of loss, average gestational age of 32 weeks and a 36% impairment rate.

I was one of the fortunate ones who knew what selective reduction (SR) was even was prior to beginning my fertility treatments. I called it “fertility’s ugly stepbrother;” it existed to clean up the messes fertility drugs caused. My end goal in fertility treatments was always one healthy child, and although the decision to move forward with SR didn’t come easily to me, I reduced from triplets to a singleton at 12 weeks gestation.

I’ve always been open and honest about discussing my SR in public. However, in discussing this choice, I have begun to notice I don’t fit in. The choice advocates aren’t sure how to respond; the pro-life advocates call it abortion; and women who have terminated for medical reasons fume that I would associate my choice with theirs, as I have a child and they do not.

The multiples community looks down on me as cowardly or selfish. From time to time I receive emails confirming this is true.

We, the selective reduction community, don’t fit in anywhere. I’ve had friends who worked at abortion clinics call the procedure “half an abortion” or a “partial abortion”. I’ve had family members suggest I could have adopted the other two fetuses to friends. There’s the always deeply loved “baby killer” moniker that won’t seem to cease, no matter how many times I explain fetal development and the statistics on triplet pregnancies.

Hence, the weird-grey-area of reproductive choice is where I’m comfortable, nearly six years post-procedure. I don’t feel the need to fit into a certain place or space in the world. The grey gives me comfort, knowing I’m inadvertently bridging the gap between the pro-choice and pro-life worlds. Selective reduction doesn’t fit anyone’s expectation on what choice means. When you fall into the grey, it causes this wormhole of stereotypes to occur: where does she belong, where does she fit, this choice makes me uncomfortable… My response: I am where I was meant to be.

Let me push the envelope on what you believe choice means, let me be the one who informs you that choice is not simply a means to an end. Choice can mean a means to a beginning. Choice led me to a very healthy, vivacious, beautiful child.

Confounded? You aren’t alone. These days women’s reproductive health issues are fodder for water cooler discussions at the office. Words like vagina, afterbirth and choice give way to fanaticism in ways that confound me.

I never thought discussing my pregnancy or my vagina would lead to a place wherein I find myself today: the creator of a community, the only life preserver women feel they have when faced with such a complex situation, and the only person willing to use their name and put a face to what selective reduction really is. But, here’s where I sit: a happy mom, who provides support and doesn’t apologize for our decision to terminate two fetuses.

My life is one that will never get uncomplicated. I am a strong-willed woman, born by a strong-willed woman, and I have my own strong-willed daughter. I come from a long line of women who choose to push envelopes. These days, I’m not trying to push them; I want to burn their very existence. I may make you uncomfortable, as the very idea of opting to terminate two of three fetuses in a pregnancy can be disquieting. The grey is that last puzzle piece that can’t be forced to fit into the slot you want it to. We are the puzzle piece left over, and we’re comfortable with that.

You might be reading this asking yourself a lot of questions. Why did she terminate two of three and not one of three? Does she feel bad? Does she question her choice? The answers to those questions are complex and not exactly easy to answer. I made a choice, just as you make choices: how many embryos to put in, whether or not to continue multiples, choosing a donor for sperm/eggs. They’re all choices.

I am a mother, just as you are or will be. And I want the best for my child and for my family at any cost. My question back to you is this: are we really so different, then? We’re just parents or future parents, making the best decisions for our families. Perhaps there’s no line delineating us after all.

 The Aftermath of NOT Reducing: Angela’s Perspective

Angela Bickford headshotAngela Bickford is the mother of triplets, one of whom passed away after 49 days. After three years of infertility, and her subsequent loss, Angela has made it her mission to help other moms going through similar struggles. She works for the non-profit, Hand to Hold, which supports the preemie/NICU/loss parent, and writes about surviving after loss on her personal blog.

When it came time to have ‘that’ conversation with our doctor, I knew what was coming. I’m a type-A, worry-about-it-all, see-the-missing-tile type person who’s already experienced three years of trying and several miscarriages. Part of me felt it would be the ‘smart’ choice, and part of me just wanted the miracle of three, healthy babies.

Deep down, I wasn’t really that conflicted. I knew that I could never reduce – not because of my faith or whether or not it was acceptable – but because I’ve always wanted to be a mom and with it taking so long to get to this point, I wasn’t letting any of them go.

So my husband and I said a quick ‘no’ and moved on. We didn’t need to hear the risks, we wanted all three.

At 14 weeks, a cerclage was placed to help ensure they’d stay cooking longer. At 21.5 weeks along, I was placed on home bed rest with the beginnings of incompetent cervix and told that Baby A was at the most risk. This is when my self-doubt started to creep in.

The second-guessing. The what-ifs. And, of course, it was too late to revisit that conversation… (side note: it wouldn’t have changed anything, but it’s important to note that even after making my decision, my mind still wondered.)

At 23.5 weeks, I landed in the hospital and continued my bed rest there. Eventually, Baby A’s water broke (11 days in), but the babies didn’t make their entrance for another 19 days. All sick. All needing resuscitation. All near death.

It was day-by-day and minute-by-minute. It was a lot of what-ifs and second-guessing. Wondering how we could have done things differently or if the outcome would have been different if we had.

Because, in the end, we lost Baby A – Carter – because that risk – that real risk they talk about in that conversation no one wants to have – it won.

I guess I share all this to say that even though I didn’t personally choose to reduce, I still didn’t get my happy ending. Could reducing have made for an easier pregnancy? Could it have helped my other two stay cooking longer and ultimately be free of the lasting effects of prematurity they have today?

I’ll never know. But what I do know… is that I made a decision. It may not have been a decision someone else would have made, but I own it, and I’m okay with the way it ended up.

Two women, two views. Different outcomes, same question.

We’d like to end by saying that every situation is different – every pregnancy, every woman, every uterus. In life, in the hardest of situations, you have to step up and do what you feel led to do. And we challenge you to put yourself out there and see the other side… to have compassion for someone you may not know for the decisions they make that are not yours to make, whether you agree with them or not. To love and support your friend through their struggle to make this decision and make sure they know you’ll be there on the other side. Because everyone deserves support. Everyone deserves at least that.

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Nichole’s Story: The Path to Adoption

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This story was submitted by Nichole, who blogs about life with her amazing duo at Love at First Smile.

I’m a planner! My entire life is a well thought out, well constructed plan! I think things through. I don’t make rash decisions. I make sure everything is squared away before moving on to the next step! I’ve always been this way and it boggles my mind that there are people who fly by the seat of their pants! Those people stress me out and I feel the need to make a plan for them!

I’m a rule follower! I do things the way you are supposed to. Society tells us the sequence of events for our lives and that’s what I do! I don’t stray from the rules…ever! (I am known to speed, so I’m not a full-on buzz kill.)

I’m also terrified of needles! There, I said it! It’s silly and ridiculous and extremely embarrassing but it is what it is! I’m talking the mere mention of a needle will have me in a cold sweat. Don’t let me see a needle or I’m going down! As a kid, adults would rib me about how I was going to have children and my answer was always, I’m going to adopt!

Before I married my husband, we, of course, had all of the talks about having children and how we would raise them… all of the talks that you are supposed to have. I had always hoped that I would adopt a child at some point in my life. I had known a few people who had adopted and I felt a certain calling for it. I loved the idea of giving a child a chance that they wouldn’t have had.

Boy, did I learn that when you adopt, you aren’t giving them a gift… they are giving you a gift.

My future husband was totally open to adoption too so in my plan I thought the ideal situation would be for us to have a biological child and then later on adopt our second child. I had it all figured out. Can you tell?

 I’ve learned that some of the greatest things in life were discovered by getting off the sidewalk! Infertility led to the adoption of two lovely daughters.

Now that I’ve given you a 10-cent tour of myself, here’s my journey through infertility to adoption!

Remember, I’m a rule follower! I got married when I was 22 and I knew that I wasn’t ready to be a mother yet. I was always terrified of getting pregnant before I was ready. The stars needed to align just right and my ducks needed to be in a straight, non-curvy, no bumps in the road, line! My plan was to be selfish for a little while: enjoy being married, travel, spend money on myself, do exactly what I wanted to do! I knew that for me to be the mother that I wanted to be, I needed to be able to give 100% of myself to motherhood, when the time came. That time was NOT my early 20s!

I’m a planner, remember? Well, according to my well-constructed, I’m-in-charge-of-my-life plan, we were going to start “trying” to get pregnant on our 5th wedding anniversary! That anniversary was celebrated in Las Vegas and we followed the plan. We started “trying” that week in September, 2008.

I believed we would totally have a baby by Christmas, 2009. We probably needed to go ahead and talk about baby names. We should probably pick out nursery colors and furniture. Writing all of this makes me giggle out loud. I just knew how everything was going to go because I HAD A PLAN!

My husband and I continued to “try” to no avail. After a couple of years, the word infertility kept creeping in to my brain. I wanted to be a Mom so much that I would literally ache. My husband and I considered starting out on the fertility journey but I was not on board with being poked and prodded and tested. Remember my fear of needles!

We started to throw around the adoption idea but getting started on an adoption journey is so hard! There just aren’t any resources out there that tell you how to start the process. We learned early on that with adoption, you either have a lot of money or a lot of time, meaning you can either spend a lot of money for a quick adoption or you can spend a lot of time waiting on an adoption opportunity! Well, we had time!

Adoption had always been on my heart and was always part of my plan. I believe that infertility affected me so that I could let go of my plans and the “rules” and go down another, different path than I thought I would. After lots of research, emails, phone calls, tears, and many late night talks, we decided to start the adoption process in 2010. Our home study was completed in 2011 and we began the wait. Since we chose not to go through an agency, we decided we would just let God’s plan be. Everyone we knew was aware that we wanted to adopt and we knew that when the timing was right, God would plant a child in our lives!

I’ll save all of the adoption details for a blog post on adoption. Fast forward to 2012 and we were blessed with not one, but two of the most beautiful, sweetest little girls in the world! They were 4 and 6 at the time they came to live with us, not babies! Remember my plan? I was prepared for a baby, not 2 little girls!

Nichole's very loved daughters. The family was united by adoption.

In August of 2013, the adoption was finalized and we are now the parents to 8 year old Hazel Kate and 6 year old Kellie Caroline and life could not be any better!

God’s plan was so much better than mine! We jumped in head first and we haven’t slowed down since! Life is so full and the biggest miracle! I thank God every day for these 2 little lives that we’ve been chosen to parent!

Our infertility/adoption journey was heart-wrenching, exhausting, sad, infuriating, and confusing. However, that 4 year journey was also marriage-building, motivating, and a bigger blessing than I could see when I was in the middle of it! I learned so many things about myself and my marriage during that time, but most importantly I learned that my plans are not always the right plans.

I needed to let go and get off my path. Otherwise, I would have missed the most incredible gift!

Many times, we have to let go of the way that we think life should be to head in a different direction. I’ve learned that some of the greatest things in life were discovered by getting off the sidewalk! It’s amazing what life can give you if you change the way you think it’s supposed to go!

Everyone’ s journey to motherhood is different and that’s OK! Being a mother is the greatest gift in the world, no matter how you got there.

Whether you get pregnant on the first try (congrats to you, if that’s the case), go through fertility treatments, adopt your little one, help someone else take care of their children, stand in as someone’s mom, or fill any other type of “mom” role, you were chosen for that role.

Make it count!

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Lea’s Story: From Infertility to Adoption

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This post was originally published as “Fast Forward to 2010” on LeaTheBlogger. You can also find Lea on Twitter.

My IVF ended in 2008 after we decided not to continue with any more treatments. To be honest, I thought once we stopped ‘thinking’ about it, that it would just happen. We did stop thinking about it for a while. We had other things to think about…

In 2010 we got a phone call that changed our lives forever. It was early July, a weeknight. My Mam called to say her cousin had been killed. I had never met him. We talked about how it happened and what a shame it was. He was in his 40s and she said he had 2 daughters he would be leaving behind. I did think about them, thinking “poor things”, but I assumed they were older children.

The next week, I talked to my parents again about my Mam’s cousin. They mentioned that the children he had were both 3 years old: one was almost 4 and once had just turned 3. I couldn’t believe how young they were and immediately said, “We’ll take them in“. Obviously, there was more to it than that. They had a birth mother, but had not seen her since being under a year old. They had a stepmother also who, due to complicated matters, couldn’t care for them. They were staying at their dad’s niece’s house but she had children of her own and couldn’t cope.

My husband and I spoke about it. My Mam had already spoken to the girls’ great grandma, who had mentioned us as potential long term carers for the girls. (She knew we had no children of our own.)

For Lea, the road from infertility to adoption wasn't a straight one, but she now has two daughters, the children she always wanted.

The next step was to get in touch with social services. We had a home visit and we arranged to take the youngest out for the day. She had fetal alcohol syndrome and they wanted us to be sure this was something we could do and wanted to do. That day was the most stressful day of my life, but in no way did it put us off. We wanted the girls.

So the ball was rolling with social services and the girls’ cousin was keen to get them out of her house. Things had to move quickly. We had a further meeting with social services. It was then mentioned that we could potentially be long term carers for the girls, but the birth mother and step mother had taken an interest in caring for them. If we took them in, it might not be permanent. We would be classed as family foster carers with no financial help.

This changed everything.

We heard this news on the Thursday – 5th August 2010. The social services representative contacted us the next day after. She needed our decision ASAP. If we said no or didn’t answer, she would have to look for a foster home for the girls. The girls could even be split up. We made a decision that morning.

The girls arrived at our house with a bag of teddy bears and a bag of clothes between them at 5.30pm that same day.

It was a quick turn around to make their teas, give them baths, put them to bed. My hubby had to make a quick trip to supermarket. We needed things we hadn’t anticipated. The youngest, who had tuned 3 a couple of weeks before, was still having milk! 9 bottles a day in fact, and still in nappies!

It wasn’t the best of nights. They didn’t come with PJs and the oldest one wet the bed. We had to change her into the clothes we had. The next day we hit the shops. They needed everything. When you know something is happening you can plan. A baby for instance, gives you so many months to buy things and prepare. We had a few hours.

I took 2 weeks off work. My husband and I both worked full-time. As it was foster care and not adoption we were not entitled to any time off other than annual leave. It was hard. I’m not going to lie. They needed constant attention and they were fragile too. The oldest was very quiet and withdrawn and always wanted to act like a baby. The youngest had behavioural problems and had very testing behavior! She was really hard work. She had also seen her father be killed. At that time, she could remember what had happened and some things affected her more than others.

Within a month of being told that these 2 girls existed, they were living in our house. We had gone from 2 to 4 basically overnight!

Lea is the mother of her 2 adopted daughters, married for 8 years. She lives in Durham, North East England, with her husband, daughters and Labrador. She is unable to conceive naturally due to PCOS, and has had various fertility treatments including IVF. You can find her blogging at LeaTheBlogger or follow her on Twitter.

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Baby-Maker’s Guilt: Spontaneous Conception in an Infertile World

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(By Sadia.)

I was new to motherhood when I realized that being a twin mother made me a tourist in the Land of Infertility. I remember the exact moment that it happened.

I was at a meeting of my Mothers of Multiples group. Our featured speaker was done speaking and our questions had been answered. We were all gathering up our things to head out to dinner together when my friend said casually, “Hey, who else is going to the fertility clinic reunion?” A couple of the other moms responded, just as casually, that they’d see her there.

I fiddled with my purse, avoiding eye contact, overcome with the realization that for these moms, the “Are they natural?” question wasn’t just an opportunity to shake their heads at strangers’ ignorance. It was a cut to their hearts, a reminder of a long and hard journey to become parents. I thought back on everything I’d said that evening. Had I inadvertently offended anyone with my question about breastfeeding and birth control?

I was aware of the statistics. I knew that fertility treatments had resulted in a 76% increase in twin births between 1980 and 2009. I just hadn’t paired those statistics with my friends’ life experiences. With so many infertile women around, the guilt of being able to conceive easily is very real. The guilt that settled in at that moment has never quite left me. Conception was so easy for me.

We scheduled it just so. I finished up psychotherapy to make sure that I’d vanquished the demons of my childhood so I wouldn’t introduce them into my kids’ lives. We’d starting building our first home. I’d learned to drive, found a solid job, and bought a car. I spent a year on both prenatal vitamins and birth control to prepare my body. We were ready. We decided to schedule my pregnancy for while my husband would be in Iraq. The baby, we thought, would never know that Daddy was away.

We gave ourselves a 4-month window for conception and achieved success in the first month. Seven months later, I had two beautiful little girls. My husband hadn’t even had time to deploy before our twins were home with us. We used the second pregnancy test in the two-pack we’d bought only because I’d taken the first test way too early to detect anything.

It was so easy for me. How was that fair? I would have perfectly satisfied with adoption instead of pregnancy, but my husband wanted one biological child before adopting. And here were these mothers, these wonderful, inspiring mothers, who’d had to spend thousands of dollars, to endure disappointments and losses, to get there.

When women approach me and my children in public to ask whether they were conceived with fertility assistance, on occasion I see a hopeful light in their eyes. I feel awful, telling them that no, my daughters were conceived spontaneously.

Why do I feel guilty for the fertility that allowed me to be a mother? Motherhood is guilt-infused enough as it is! The guilt can be gift, though, just a reminder of what a miracle it is that I get to experience every day. Every conception is a miracle. Twins, even more so. And my identical twins, these brilliant, funny, energy-saturated, amazing little girls calling me Mommy every day? They’re the greatest miracle of all.

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Angela’s Letter to Her Infertile Self

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(A version of this post was originally published by HDYDI author Angela on her blog,

Writing a letterDear Infertile Self,

I know it’s hard right now. I know you’re struggling…

You think your body has let you down. It hasn’t. It just may need a little more time. You think you’ll never have kids. You will. Just maybe not the way you think or when you think you should. You wonder why all the people around you are getting pregnant so easily, and you’re not. They may not be, or they may, but you’re really just seeing it more because you want it more, not because it’s happening more. Try being happy for them.

You worry that every time you go to the bathroom, there’ll be blood on the toilet paper and you’ll be miscarrying again. Try not to worry. Find the joy in being pregnant and try not to obsess that it’ll all go wrong again. You stress over every symptom, side-effect, feeling because you ‘just know’ it means bad news. Relax. Let your body do things the way it’s designed to. Sometimes, things happen for a reason. You seclude yourself from friends and family who care because you are too depressed to do anything but read books on how to get and stay pregnant. Spend some time with them, they’ll be the ones throwing your shower and helping you with the baby when it comes, and you’ll need friends to get through motherhood too.

You obsess over every tip and resource out there to help you get pregnant and resort to bad tasting concoctions and weird sex positions to try to achieve pregnancy. These things aren’t proven to work. If they stress you out more, don’t do them. You’ve started to hate sex – it’s a chore now – a means to an end. Try to enjoy sex with your husband. Forget about the timing, the medications, the charts and restrictions, and the awkwardness. Be spontaneous. You’re going to need to get the magic back after your struggle is over, so don’t let it go completely.

You are scared to reach out, to talk about the curse of infertility, to share your troubles or relate to others who are going through the same thing. It’s such a shameful thing, to be childless. LET THAT GO, most of all. There is no shame in difficult situations, only lessons and hope, if you look hard enough. ‘Let your darkness be a light to others so they don’t hit the same rocks you did’, a great man once said.

You think you’re life will be over if you don’t have kids. It won’t. You may just have to learn to live it a different way. Remember, being a mom doesn’t just mean someone who gave birth. Find ways to be motherly – they’re all around you…

Self of Now, Mother and Overcomer

Angela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business, her job at Hand to Hold, a non-profit dedicated to preemie/NICU awareness and support, and her personal blog ( Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress.

Letter to my infertile self. Hindsight is wise.

Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.