Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Our Infertility Story (very very very very very very long!)

WARNING! The following is a very long post. I'm attempting to record all the things I want to remember someday, about Nicknack's babyhood. So I'm starting at square one - our bout with infertility. You have been warned.

When you tell people you're "trying" to have a baby, it always seems too descriptive. Don't you think? You hope they aren't getting any mental images that they'd like to immediately forget. Once you become pregnant, there are lots of pleasant ways to describe your condition, such as "expecting" or "in the family way." Well, okay, I've never actually used the latter phrase, but it seems like something some people somewhere must say.

But when you're "trying" to have a baby, what do you say? It becomes especially uncomfortable when you have been "trying" for a while, and smart aleck people suggest things like, "maybe you're not doing it right!"

I always said we were "hoping" for a baby. We did hope and pray, for fifteen months, before we were pleased (delighted! thrilled! over the moon!) to discover that we were, in fact, "expecting."

I realize that 15 months is nothing compared to the experience of many couples who have struggled or are struggling with infertility. But after the first six months or so, it starts to become pretty discouraging. About three weeks of every month are spent hoping. wishing. praying. dreaming. planning. The other week is spent recovering from disappointment. Each of those negative pregnancy tests felt like a door slammed in our face. NO! No baby for you!

During the week of post-pregnancy test self pity, the enemy tried to get inside our heads. You know. Ideas. Like, maybe God didn't think we should be parents. We did a pretty good job of telling him (the enemy, not God!) to jump in the lake. But sometimes it was difficult. Like when two fertile Myrtles (one from each side of our family) announced their unplanned pregnancies. Both were unmarried. Both were unemployed and uninsured. And for one, this wasn't the first surprise pregnancy.

We had to accept that God doesn't dole out kids on basis of merit.

We knew before we started, er, hoping for a baby that we were likely to run into problems. I won't bore you with the details of my own fertility issues, but I will point out that Penn's parents "hoped" for seven years before conceiving his eldest brother. Naturally, they assumed he would be their only child. As a result, he was coddled silly! Imagine their surprise when they had a baby girl four years later, another boy three years after that, and baby Penn three years after that. After seven years of infertility, they had quite the brood! (This explains why Penn's parents are in their 80s.)

Where was I. Oh, right. We weren't at all surprised when we ran into difficulties scheduling our own visit from the stork.

There was no way in satan's hometown I was going to wait seven years for a baby. Unless God, Himself, spoke to me directly in a dream (or something like that), I wasn't just going to wait around.

We discussed adoption before even starting all his family planning business. When Penn and I started dating I told him that I felt God had put the desire to adopt in my heart. He was totally open to the idea. We'd always discussed having a child or two - the old-fashioned way - then growing our family through adoption. We also talked about adopting an older child or children, and possibly becoming foster care. So we decided that should we have any trouble conceiving, we'd start the adoption process after about a year.

Because of our plan, I didn't anticipate feeling the way I did about not being able to conceive. I guess the desire to carry a child must be something God gives to most women. Even though Moms who adopt end up with the same miraculous connection to their babies/children, I think many probably experienced sadness when they had let one dream die to embrace another.

That's what we struggled with, when after about a year, we started the adoption ball rolling. However, we ran into some obstacles that made it apparent that if we did plan to adopt, it would be some time before adoption would be a possibility.

We researched fertility treatments, but both felt pretty strongly that super invasive procedures weren't the right path for us. We did have a few minor procedures, but in the end, they didn't result in a pregnancy.

We were at a pretty low place in August, 2005. For the first time in my life, I considered the possibility that I might never be another. Keep in mind that I'd gotten my first baby name book in elementary school. I'd shadowed a stay-at-home Mom during our high school's career week. I hadn't bothered to declare a major, graduate from college, or focus on climbing the corporate ladder. All because I knew I wanted to stay at home while my kids were little.

Penn had been less anxious to start a family. Before we'd met he could never imagine himself married. He didn't know whether he wanted to ever have children. Our timelines were different, so when we agreed to start working on making a baby, he was on board, but less "sure" about it. During this 15 month period, he gradually came to want a baby as much as I did. He held his breath about those darn pregnancy tests just like I did. He cried with me when the results were disappointing. And he moped around the house feeling sorry for himself, just like me. At this point, we were totally and 100% in this thing together.

That's probably one of the reasons God's timing was more perfect than ours. There are others. When we were just a few months along we moved our of that first little brick house we'd shared as newlyweds. As we sat in the near empty house - a shell of the happy home we'd made - the memories (and tears!) were overwhelming. Some of those memories were of those blue days when we felt like we would never be parents. But most of the memories were great ones. All the times we watched the same stupid movies over and over. All the times we laughed ourselves silly over something no one else would find amusing. All of our inside jokes. The times we danced together in our living room. The silly fights. Christmases. Birthday surprises. Snuggling together in our pjs. Reading the newspaper together on Sundays, after church.

We had almost four years together as DINKS. We traveled. We ate out, a lot, and at some good restaraunts. We saw every movie. We took road trips whenever the fancy struck us. We bought all kinds of fun things. We furnished our house. We spoiled each other at Christmas and on birthdays.

During those four years, we also changed. We became so unbelievably compitable. This from a couple who made a list of pros and cons to decide whether or not we should get engaged. Our biggest "con" was our incompatibility. We grew as individuals and we grew together. We found a church. We became church members. We slooooooowly became a Christian household. We started out as two selfish people, living together before marriage. We professed a belief in God and Jesus Christ and occasionally attended church. By the time we had Nicholas, God had somehow transformed us. I don't know how that couple who exchanged vows five short years ago could have become who we are today. We are still major screw ups, with far to go, who are in daily need of God's forgiveness, grace, and guidance. But the point is, we know that now.

God's timing was so much better than our own would have been.

Looking back, I wish I'd known that sometimes a negative pregancy test is not a "no," but a "not right now." When I think about Nicknack I know without a doubt that he is the baby God meant for us. If we'd conceived on our schedule, or been able to adopt, we couldn't have Nicknack in our lives.

I wish I'd known how special that time together, just the two of us, really was. I had no idea that escaping to see a movie would be such a rare treat. And I didn't understand that having a baby changes a marriage. That we would go from being "us" centered to "him" centered. Which is the greatest thing in the world! But I might not feel that way if I hadn't had that time to just have my husband all to myself, to be the center of his attention.

There are a lot of reasons why infertility was good for us, and good for our family. The most important reason is that it really did draw us closer to God, and it let us know in no uncertain terms that WE did not give life to our son, God did. be continued.

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