“‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I think I came up with a different answer to this every time I was asked, even as I got into college. The only thing I’ve ever been sure of my entire life is I was meant to be a mom. I loved playing with dolls as a child. My first job as a teenager was babysitting, and I graduated from college with a degree in child development.
In restaurants, I make silly faces at children across the room. At parties, I am typically playing with the kids rather than mingling with adults. I’ve worked in daycares and been a nanny for many kids. When asked at my bridal shower how many kids I wanted, I responded, ‘Three to six.’ I wanted the crazy chaos of a big family.
When I met my husband, Marcus, it didn’t take long for both of us to realize our relationship was different. I knew he was the man I wanted to marry. After a year of dating, we got engaged. In April of 2013, I walked down the aisle to the man of my dreams. Looking at him, I could see my dreams becoming a reality. The only thing that would make it better was building our family.
2 months after our wedding, we moved to another state for my husband’s residency. He was thrust into a crazy work schedule, and we adjusted to our life as newlyweds in a new state. We decided in January 2014 we were ready to start our family. We gave my body 9 months to try to regulate itself but ended up needing to use medication to help us get pregnant. The doctor told us we would try the medication for 3 months and then we would do more testing. As each month passed with negative tests, I felt more and more pressure building.
I wasn’t ready to be labeled as ‘infertile.’ I was meant to be a mom. It never crossed my mind it wouldn’t happen. After 3 months of medication, we did more tests and officially came to terms with our reality of infertility. For the first time, we told our families in March of 2015 we were struggling to get pregnant. We broke down sobbing over the phone as sharing with others made it feel even more real. We didn’t tell anyone else, and we continued to silently walk the road of infertility.
Every passing month led me further into the depths of infertility and depression. Every negative test made me believe I would never be a mother. My husband worked long hours in his residency, and I felt myself pulling away from him and everyone around me. Being around children was painful. Every pregnancy announcement filled me with rage and jealousy. Every dream I had for my life seemed to be crashing down around me, and I couldn’t focus on anything else. Who was I meant to be if motherhood was not part of my identity?
Then one night, I had a very vivid dream we adopted a child. I woke my husband up in the middle of the night and told him, ‘I think we should adopt.’ He sleepily agreed as he went right back to sleep, and I spent the rest of the night researching. Once we applied to an agency, we jumped into the process of home studies, profile books, and preparing our home for a baby.
In August of 2016, we went active as a ‘waiting family,’ and our profile was shown to expectant mothers. 3 short months later the contradicting emotions of adoption hit me hard as I became a mother to a little boy born to another woman. No matter how many books or blogs I read, nothing prepared me for the moment an expectant mom chose me to parent her child. After 3 years of trying to build our family, we brought a sweet baby boy into our lives.
But adoption is not a bandaid for infertility. It did not take away my desire to experience pregnancy. Once our son was a year old, we started fertility treatments. After more tests, the doctors advised us IVF was our best chance at getting pregnant. We started right away. I became a master at giving myself shots. We then became one of the ‘lucky ones’ that got pregnant after our first round of IVF.
After 4 years of trying, I saw my first positive on a pregnancy test. My mind wouldn’t let me believe it. I took test after test until morning sickness kicked in and it finally hit me that this was really happening. But instead of enjoying the pregnancy I had longed for, anxiety from years of infertility flooded me.
After a rough pregnancy, I delivered our son early at 36 weeks due to preeclampsia. I got very sick, very quick. I had so much medication to keep my blood pressure down I barely talked during the 29 hours of induction and labor. When our son was born, I couldn’t hold him very long because I was too dizzy. Nothing went the way I thought. The pregnancy. The delivery. When we came home from the hospital, I sobbed as the whirlwind of getting sick and delivering early finally hit me as I held my son in his tiny, premie clothes.
Then I found myself struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety as I came to terms with the idea we were done having kids. Adoption had wrecked me in ways I wasn’t prepared for, and IVF destroyed my desire to ever be pregnant again. I felt so much guilt that we had two children and yet I didn’t feel like our family was complete. Couldn’t I just be happy with the family we had built? I was angry infertility left the decision of how and when to build our family up to us. I was mad, once again, my dream of a big family wouldn’t happen.
So we decided to put family building aside. For the first time in 5 years, we weren’t going to decide what was next. We were just going to enjoy being parents to our two boys we worked so incredibly hard to bring into our family. In December 2019, I took the boys up to nap, and I felt out of breath. I’m not in great shape, but I wasn’t typically out of breath walking upstairs. I instantly was brought back to my pregnancy and thought, ‘There’s no way I could be pregnant.’
No matter how many negative tests you see through infertility, though, you still hold on to the tiny bit of hope one day you will see a positive. I just couldn’t get pregnancy off my mind. For me, at this point in our journey, it was easiest to see a negative test and move on. I dug out my stash of pregnancy tests and took one. I walked back into our bathroom 3 minutes later and screamed when I saw the word, ‘PREGNANT.’ Shock. I sat in shock. I felt excited then instantly felt scared. I had no idea what to do. Do I need to start shots? Do I need to start medication?
Luckily my husband is an OB/GYN and he explained there was nothing to do. I was just a normal pregnant woman. The pregnancy was much easier than my first but in March of 2020, we got another surprise. We would deliver our baby during a global pandemic. There are no books or blogs or guidelines on how to handle this. There was no research on how Covid affected pregnancy, so we locked down.
In August of 2020, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, little girl. It might have been during a pandemic, but it was far easier than my first delivery. I found healing in having a normal pregnancy and delivery.
In under 4 years, we went from a family of two to a family of five. If you saw us with our three little children, you’d never guess we experienced infertility. You cannot see my scars from infertility. You cannot see the trauma my body still holds.
Infertility made me believe I was weak and broken. It has taken me years to realize instead, I am strong and resilient. It brought me closer to my husband. It brought me a community of women walking the same journey. It gave me a voice to advocate for them and myself. And now as I hold the title ‘mom’ and listen to the chaos of my big family run and scream and giggle through our house, I realize infertility brought me a more beautiful reality than I ever dreamed.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Betsy Hemesath from Ankeny, Iowa. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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‘Any chance you’re interested in adopting a redhead?’ We went from 0 to 3 kids. Two weeks later, we were pregnant.’: Couple battling infertility become parents to 10 after miracle pregnancies, adoption
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