Disclaimer: The story contains details of child loss and miscarriage that may be upsetting for some.
Early Fertility Issues
“When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a mom, having a family and house full of little ones. I imagined the family movie nights, first holidays, little feet pattering on the floor, and all the laughter our home would be filled with. It truly was such a dream life I envisioned. However, the road to making this dream come true would be so emotionally and physically exhausting, trying and heartbreaking. I just did not know it yet.
In my late teens, I began receiving abnormal results from an annual test at my doctor’s office. After close monitoring, many biopsies, and procedures, I received a diagnosis that was frightening and led me to an oncology office. My oncologist was soft, kind, and gentle. It was extremely important to me my doctor had these traits, I was young and scared and needed those things in such a fragile situation. It’s important to mention she was my second opinion and second oncologist. The first one my mom and I went to was harsh, blunt, and had the worst bedside manner I have witnessed to date. I really think this is when I learned to advocate for myself, always.
My new doctor ran tests and reviewed my medical reports thoroughly. She explained I had a very high level of pre-cancerous cells in my cervix and would need to undergo procedures to help get rid of them. We had a plan and we would do everything to preserve my fertility because even as a teenager, I knew I wanted to be a mom. The procedures were almost a quarterly occurrence for a few years but each time, the results improved, and my levels decreased. Eventually, the pre-cancerous cells were gone and to this day, I have not had one abnormal result. The downside to these procedures was it made my cervix incompetent, meaning the odds of me being able to carry a child naturally were slim. My heart sunk but I was young and just thought, with science and technology, I’d have a baby.
My husband and I met in the fall of 2011 at our best friend’s joint bachelor and bachelorette party. We began dating and quickly became infatuated with one another. It was so easy to be with him. He loved his family, hilarious, was and is still truly the kindest person I know. We lived 3 and a half hours apart initially and spent weekends with each other as often as we could. We finally moved in together in 2012 and got engaged in 2014! From almost the start of our relationship, we talked candidly about our future and the joint dream of building a family. We were both in our early thirties and we had waited to find the ‘perfect match,’ we thought we were doing everything in order of the way our parents and the world expect (college, job, house, marriage). We were so excited to be married in 2015 and immediately began trying to start a family. My husband comes from a very large family and I was not aware of any fertility issues on my side of the family, well except for me that is.
With my prior history, no positive pregnancies, and many long discussions, we knew our next step was to make an appointment with a fertility specialist. We did all of this within 3 months of marriage. We did not want to wait or delay babies. I literally could hear my ovaries crying out to me daily. We had two of our best friends who were in the process, at that time of IVF and we decided we would go to that clinic. I remember feeling relieved and being excited about our appointment. Surely this was going to be the solution to building our family and give us a baby!
We discussed my history, our concerns, the overall process, the testing both my husband and I would undergo to determine our fertility. It was a lot of information and tons of emotions to take in, but we nodded and left the office with our next steps. I was hopeful we would be classified as ‘unexplained infertility’ meaning both my and my husbands’ reproductive systems were all normal. Looking back, I’m not sure why I wanted this diagnosis, maybe because then nothing concretely was wrong with me or him? Thinking about this now, it sure would have been easier to have a firm reason for why we were not having success.
Most of the tests were easy, either blood, ultrasound, or sperm but there was a handful that left me in tears. I always thought it would all be worth it in the end, I had to push forward, keep going, and don’t stop until the goal was obtained. All our results came back normal and we moved forward with our first Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) which resulted in a negative pregnancy test. We tried this approach twice more with no luck, we knew IVF was our next move.
We changed clinics and felt more hopeful than ever. We had our first egg retrieval, which resulted in six embryos. We did Pre-Genetic Testing, which looks at the cell of the embryo and determines if it is ‘normal’ or not. We had four normal, one mosaic, and one abnormal. Four shots at a baby! We underwent our first Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) and again had a negative result. We were shattered. How could a normal embryo that was implanted into my body not stick or result in a positive pregnancy? What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t I get pregnant? Was I being punished? Keep in mind, while you undergo fertility treatments, you are on a slew of hormones including pills and shots, daily! It was so hard on me, on my husband, on our families. We felt like we were failures.
We proceeded with another FET the following month and 9 days later, we received a call from our doctor we were pregnant! After years of waiting, we finally had seen those beautiful two pink lines! I had my HCG beta-tested, which is the hormone that indicates the pregnancy levels, and everything was looking perfect. We had our first ultrasound at 6 weeks 1 day and saw our son. 2 weeks later, we saw him again, and his beautiful heartbeat flicker. We were over the moon! 2 days later, I began bleeding at home in the middle of the night. It was so painful, mentally and physically I was in a panic. We went to the ER and we saw that baby was okay. The next day, I had another scan where it was determined I had miscarried. Our world shattered into a billion pieces.
The doctors tell you miscarriages are normal but there was nothing normal about losing our child. We pushed forward and did another FET but this time with two embryos that resulted in another negative pregnancy. We decided to do another Egg Retrieval and had another six embryos. More hope, more chances. We depleted our chances with every single try, but we got pregnant again, this time with our daughter. Although we were so thrilled, we were guarded and we kept our news very quiet. I had thought so many times, what were the chances of me miscarrying a normal embryo twice? I was scared. We made it to graduation day at the fertility clinic, which was our goal, and were ‘pregnant enough’ to be seen by our OBGYN. We had our appointment scheduled and we felt a little relief knowing things were progressing as they should. I began spotting again and had another miscarriage, but this time, surgical intervention was needed. I mentally was a wreck and sank into a very dark depression. I thought IVF would give us a baby. However, I learned it only gives you a chance at having a baby. I was done with IVF but I was not done with my dream of becoming a mama.
Looking Into Adoption
My husband and I had discussed infant adoption many times throughout the years and knew this was our next step in building our family. We threw ourselves into learning everything we could possibly learn and knew domestic infant adoption was the route we wanted to pursue. Our first step was to complete a ‘Home Study,’ which is when you work with a social worker to gather about 30 pages of background information that includes verifications, home visits, medical backgrounds, and recommendations.
Once approved, we signed on with an adoption consultant instead of an agency. We learned consultants can help find ‘hopeful adoptive parents’ (HAPs) a match quicker (3 to 12 months) than an adoption agency where the typical wait time can be up to 3 years. We had to create a profile book, which is what an expectant mom would view if you were interested in matching with her. Ultimately, the placement of a child is chosen by the birth mom, meaning the expectant parent(s) decide who they want to parent their baby. With our consults, we would see what is known in the adoption world as ‘expectant mother situations’ and they typically consist of information regarding the birth mom/parents and baby. You review these details and decide if you would like to present your profile book to the expectant mom or parents.
Every ‘situation’ is different and almost every single one feels like they could be your baby, so when an expectant mom chose another family, our hearts broke with each ‘no.’ We kept pushing forward, knowing our perfect match was out there. We had presented to over 12 expectant parents throughout our wait and my hope was dwindling with each passing day. I kept saying, ‘We’ll be the best parents if only someone would give us a chance.’
I had made some connections with different adoption agencies and lawyers and one fateful day in October 2020, an email popped up in my inbox with the subject, ‘Urgent – Baby Born’ from an agency we recently got a ‘No’ from. I immediately reviewed the details, submitted our profile, and then called my husband to tell him about this baby. I was excited and hopeful but tried to remain calm. We had pictures scheduled that evening on the beach and we thought, ‘How cool would it be if we got the call during our pictures?’ That would be something worth capturing.
Becoming A Mom
We heard nothing that night, but we tried staying positive. Sunday rolled around, we had breakfast, and I got a text message with a picture of a baby boy. Moments later, my phone rang, it was the social worker from the agency telling us ‘Congratulations’ and at that moment, we learned we were parents to a beautiful baby boy. We jumped in the car and were on our way to the hospital. That fateful meeting was magical, overwhelming, joyful, emotional, and so longed for with not a single moment taken for granted.
Becoming a mom has been the biggest obstacle of my life. I was not sure if this dream, I envisioned would ever be a reality. I always knew I had to keep pushing forward. I was meant to be a mom. The long road to motherhood has made me so grateful for not only my son but his birth mom. I love her dearly and she is honored in our home. There is no one in this world who has given us such a tremendous gift and we are eternally thankful. Our family has grown larger not only because of our son but also because of his birth mom!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Courtesy of Jill T. Cherry from Florida. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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