Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, and in various ways. Love for another is the true measure of a mother. We’re wishing everyone a happy, healthy and joyful Mother’s Day this weekend! Love, BE.
Children have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was eager to babysit as soon as I was old enough, and knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a teacher. Naturally, having my own children was something I wanted as well, and I was able to find a wonderful husband who had many of the same hopes and dreams. We discussed our desire for children casually when we were dating, and a bit more seriously once we were engaged. We were both under the impression that getting pregnant would be pretty easy, and took every appropriate precaution we could to ensure it didn’t happen before we were ready. After we were married for a few months, I went off birth control. Although we weren’t aggressively trying to conceive, we decided to let nature take its course. We went about our busy lives and decided that whenever I did get pregnant, we would be ready.
The issue of infertility did not even cross my mind until I was at a gynecologist appointment about a year later. I mentioned that I was not on birth control and that we were not aggressively trying to conceive yet, but that we would be happy if we did. I expected reassurance or a suggestion that I start to use ovulation tests and calendars. Instead, I saw a concerned look on my doctor’s face as she suggested that I contact a fertility clinic if we did not conceive in the next couple of months. Those words felt like a punch in the stomach, and I became a bit angry. I was convinced that she was just trying to advertise the fertility clinic, and I left the office nearly in tears. After that day, the idea of starting a family was constantly on my mind. Being over 30, I started to fear that I was running out of time—I’d certainly heard women speak about their “biological clocks ticking.” I started noticing children everywhere we went and worrying that something I thought would be so easy would be out of reach for us. While I realized that there are many routes to creating a family, I began to feel a bit lost with no clear plan in sight for us.
About two months later, when I still hadn’t gotten pregnant, we set up an appointment at the fertility clinic. After initial screenings and discussions of our options, we decided to move forward with the process of In-vitro fertilization (IVF). While more complex than some fertility treatments, and certainly not guaranteed to work, it was determined that it would be our best option for conceiving a child.
The actual process of IVF was draining, both physically and emotionally. With nightly injections, frequent ultrasounds and blood work, and the lurking possibility that it might fail, I felt constantly exhausted and worried. I spent hours online researching every little symptom I had and reading forums about other people’s experiences with IVF. This was when I discovered that the internet can be both a blessing and a curse. While I found very helpful information, I also found rare horror stories, and, being anxious already, I became convinced that every little ache or pain I had might be a sign of something horrible and catastrophic for my body. Thankfully, my husband was very supportive and my doctor and nurses were readily available when I had questions. I quickly learned that they were the best sources to go to whenever I had any concerns.
My internet searches also illustrated to me the one unfortunate aspect of taking a less-common path to starting a family–the differing opinions people have that can lead to harsh criticism and judgment. Even though I understood that the issue of IVF is quite controversial among some religious groups, I had no idea how much vitriol existed towards people who choose that route to start a family. One of the most hurtful things I read was that IVF babies “aren’t meant to be here” and “can have no soul.” While things like that are shocking to read, and threw me for a while, I ultimately came to believe that IVF creates life and that science and technology that promotes life should be celebrated rather than criticized. The harsh words from some people eventually faded from my mind as my husband and I realized that it was truly a beautiful process and that it was absolutely the right decision for us as we planned for a family.
Our doctor believed that our chances of conceiving were high, but we still had to deal with the very real possibility that the process would fail. Since the process was all-consuming while I was going through it, it was very difficult to think about the fact that it could result in no baby. We were fortunate to know that a second cycle of IVF was possible for us, but I was not sure that I would want to go through the intense process again. During that time, I began to research other paths to starting a family, including adoption. After much reflection, I knew I would have to work through unavoidable grief if our process did fail, however, I also knew that our desire to start a loving family was strong enough that we would certainly be willing to pursue other paths. That thought was extremely comforting to me.
Ten days after the embryo transfer stage of the IVF process, I went in for the blood work that would tell me whether or not I was pregnant. Later that day, after an almost agonizing wait, I got the call about our positive result. I was pregnant! I cannot begin to explain the mixture of happiness, relief, excitement and pure gratitude that both my husband and I felt that day.
Now, I sit here, 25 weeks pregnant with our son. It is such an amazing feeling, despite the pregnancy pains and discomforts. Although I may complain at times, I am extremely grateful to experience this. I am so thankful to the doctors and nurses that guided us through the at-times overwhelming process, and to my husband for sharing my dream of a family and supporting me every step of the way. I am also incredibly grateful to the women who shared their experiences with IVF via video blogs for helping me to realize that I was not alone. I realize that we both are extremely lucky that our journey went so smoothly, and that many couples do not have such a smooth journey. We may decide to do it again in the future, although we also see adoption as another wonderful option as we continue to build our family. Whatever we choose, we know that our faith and trust in each other will help us make the right decision.
My hope is that by sharing our experiences, other couples who may be confronted with infertility might realize that there is hope and that they are not alone. Although it was sometimes difficult, I feel so incredibly blessed that my husband and I are about to embark upon the journey of parenthood together, and I plan to never take a single moment of it for granted.
Karen Wrang is an elementary school teacher who recently relocated from Maryland to Seattle, WA with her husband and pets. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with rescue animals, going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and reading whatever she can get her hands on.