“When my husband and I got married, we had it all planned out. That’s what a lot of us do, right? At least, we have the script planned for when someone asks us at our bridal shower how many children you are going to have. Then Grandma asks, ‘When you are going to give me great-grandchildren?’ and you have to pull the timeline from the script you and your partner created. Our answer was, ‘We’re going to wait 2, maybe 3 years, to enjoy ourselves. Then, we’ll have two, maybe three, children.’ We were both from three-child households so that felt right, but the idea of paying for college for three felt a lot more daunting than paying for two. So, two was the goal. Of course, there is a possibility of an oopsie though, right? Fertility happens for most people, so naturally, it was going to happen for us. Off into wedded bliss, we went until the pelvic pain started.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I sit for a living. When the sitting got too extreme, I went to the doctor. The doctor scheduled surgery, and the surgery lead to the first of many gynecological diagnoses. I remember waking up from surgery with my sweet husband gripping my face. In and out of consciousness I went, and he tried to relay the harsh reality of our current situation. ‘Honey, you have endometriosis. It’s bad and it’s everywhere. I don’t know everything down there, but it’s covered. All of it. There’s too much for them to take any out. This is going to be really hard for us.’
I remember those words like it was yesterday. Two, maybe three children became a hope we could just get one. We hadn’t even started trying yet, and certainly weren’t close to our period of just ‘enjoying each other’ being over. 8 months after that surgery, I conceived our first child. I was doing home-based therapy for a local agency at the time, and I remember pregnancy symptoms causing me to nap on the side of the road in between clients because I was just so exhausted. I loved being pregnant. The nausea, exhaustion, all of it. Tyler, my husband, was present for all of it, too. Around week 10, I just didn’t ‘feel pregnant’ anymore. Then came the subtle cramping and a-little-more-than-spotting bleeding.
Even as we sat in our local emergency room, waiting for the tech to scan me, we couldn’t imagine there was actually a problem. ‘Your baby no longer has a heartbeat.’ Even typing those words takes me back to the beige room with the paper dress they made me wear. The tech excused herself and I stood up, falling right into my husband’s arms. Again, he cradled my face in his hands and said, ‘Promise me. Promise me this isn’t going to change us.’ Even though we were now confronted with extraordinary grief, he tenderly invited me into his grace and promised me we were in this together. In that moment, we nestled into each other and fought through the grief to stay one.
Once we got the all-clear to start trying again, we observed another problem. My cycles vacillated between 45 and 60 days. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Treated with Clomid, we conceived again, thirteen months after our first pregnancy. That baby was with us for 5 weeks. Weeks later, we conceived a baby who was with us for 6 weeks. Just after, I was pregnant for only 7 weeks. I remember after each miscarriage my trusty OBGYN’s reaction becoming less hopeful. After our fourth, she tilted her head to the side, extended her condolences for more than the pregnancy, and reached in for a big hug.
We were experts at collecting ourselves after these hard conversations. Back we went into real life, praying for a miracle and re-adjusting our lives into acceptance we most likely would never have children who looked like us. Remember the pelvic pain I had from sitting? Well, it got worse. Like, so bad I lived with a Fentanyl patch on, which barely touched the pain. I went back to surgery, and the doctor found I had adenomyosis. One of my miscarriages had bled into my uterus instead of out. My uterus was now sitting on my pelvic floor and had compromised my bladder. The course of treatment: hysterectomy.
I was only 32 at the time, and everyone in my life reached the decision this was best long before I did. I had to do a lot of work in my own heart to be able to surrender this area of my femininity. But alas, it was out. Our story doesn’t end here, however. In between miscarriages three and four, independently my husband and I both felt the call to adoption in the fall of 2013. We talked to mentors and friends who had adopted. We read books and listened to stories. The call we felt most strongly was towards international adoption. Dear friends we consulted said they were told if you chose international adoption, the country chooses you. They were right.
My husband had been on several mission trips to the Dominican Republic, so he was drawn there. Due to their country’s stipulations at the time, we would be unable to meet their requirements because of our jobs. My heart, on the other hand, had always been really drawn to Africa. It took one look at Ethiopia and we were hooked. 20 months after we started the adoption process, we landed back on U.S. soil with our two Ethiopian-born sons. I will never get over the fact I get to parent these two children. Our story doesn’t end how we imagine it would. Biologically, our story doesn’t end with a pretty bow on it. Our family picture looks different than we thought it would. However, today we look at it and we see perfection.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cathie Quillet of Nashville, Tennessee. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. 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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