Friday, August 26, 2011

A Good Story Made Better

*This one is for all you Infertile Myrtles out there*

So you all know the story, right?  The one that goes, "Oh, my aunt/cousin/roommate/co-worker/cellmate/partner-in-crime/whatever got pregnant just as soon as she started to adopt!"  It's the story that can be the bane of an infertile woman's world.  (And just so you know, the statistics of this happening for you are so completely not in your favor!).  I am little ashamed to admit that when my mother made some comment along these lines I reacted...poorly.

But the truth is I almost was that story.  Almost.

Jay and I finished up our third IVF cycle in April.  I had really high hopes for it (as always) since I had 3 whole embryos that decided to become blastocysts (for the uninitiated, those are embryos of a couple hundred cells that have a much higher survival rate than the smaller embryos).  They transferred 2 and froze 1 (this was the first time anything had survived to freeze -- happy day!).

The day of my pregnancy test I was SO convinced it had worked.  I kept a running conversation in my head of how I was going to tell Jay.  (My favorite one was this: "So honey, how would you like to take a pregnant woman out to dinner tonight?")




I didn't get a chance to say those words.

Not surprisingly, things were bad for awhile after that.  I'm not sure how to explain it to those who haven't been there, but the thing with infertility is that you try SO hard, for SO long, and you get nowhere.  This isn't one of those problems that has a "partial" solution.  The glass isn't half-full or half-empty -- it's either running over or it's dry as a desert.  I wish I could explain it better, I've tried to tell people about it before, and the infertile women all nod in understanding and the fertile ones sort-of look puzzled.  To them it's obvious -- if you want children badly enough, you'll get them somehow, so why the despair?  All I can say is that it's not obvious when you're in the middle of it.

So one morning in the middle of May, I get this phone call from my sister-in-law.  She's calling me early in the morning because she had sent me an email that needed a little prefacing.  The email went something like this, "I was on this website last night called Reece's Rainbow, and I saw a little boy, and he is so cute and he needs a home and...maybe you want him?  I haven't been able to get him out of my mind."  So I followed the link and there he was -- an adorable little guy named Tanner.

I wasn't ready yet.  Not even close.

I saw Tanner and he was so cute -- and most definitely not mine.  (Which is only obvious because he was quite definitely hers).  I briefly looked at some of the profiles on Reece's Rainbow, and I can only describe my reaction as panic.  So many children, in such need, with more problems than I could handle.  It was terrifying.  So I put it out of much out of my mind as I could.  But within days it was clear that Tanner was going to become my nephew, and so there was really no escaping it.

A few weeks passed, and Jay and I decided to transfer the last frozen embryo.  We didn't hold out much hope for it -- none really.  After all, the frozen embryos tend to have lower success rates than fresh ones, and it's hard to have a lower rate than zero...  But I wanted to be done with it.  We both did.  We had already decided that this would be the last cycle -- even I was unwilling to get on the emotional roller coaster again.

Which meant it was time to look at adoption again.

We had signed with a domestic agency years ago, and did a bit of work to get our files with them updated -- medical forms, etc.  But now that I was pursuing the adoption route, I couldn't get the kids on Reece's Rainbow out of my head.  The problem was that I have zero experience with Down Syndrome, and some of the other kids in Tanner's group had medical issues that I had no idea how to deal with.  Then I came across the page of kids who were HIV+.  I didn't know much about the current HIV treatment, but I knew it wasn't necessarily a ticking time bomb anymore either.

And these children were so beautiful, and so sweet, and my heart pretty much broke.

And almost overnight everything changed.  (It wasn't literally overnight, but it was definitely within a week.)  I was researching pediatric HIV and the pros and cons of international adoptions.  I read every blog I could find, and every day I looked at the picture of this sweet little boy that I could bring home.  I contacted Reece's Rainbow, I got an adoption agency within my state.

For the first time in literally years, everything was coming together.  It was seamless. Serendipity.  The Force. God. Call it what you want, but it was in charge and I could see my future again.

Recall that I was still incubating an embryo at this point.  But I was SO sure that my pregnancy test was going to be negative, and I barely paid it any mind.  I clearly remember sitting in Panera with my mother on the day of my pregnancy test and talking about the adoption I wanted to do.  The test wasn't even on the radar.

I went to Target to buy 3-ring binders to hold all of my adoption paperwork together.

As I was leaving Target, I got a call from my mail-order pharmacy about my progesterone supplement.  I told them that there must be some mistake, that I wasn't going to need that anymore. She was confused.  I asked her when the prescription had come in.  She said, "Uh, about 10 minutes ago."  I said, "Really?  I better check  with my nurse."

I got on my email, and there is was -- a positive test.  Not a wishy-washy positive (I'd had two of those before) but a real, honest-to-goodness, within-the-normal-range positive pregnancy test.

I went home to pee on a stick and there were 2 pink lines.

People dancing!  Balloons!  Cotton Candy! Angels singing!

I tried not to get excited, I really did.  After all, this is where it  always went wrong before.  But when I went in again 2 days later, my levels had risen normally.  They had almost tripled!  Two days later it was the same.  This was monumental.  It was stupendous.

It was crazy.

I was that story.

I was the very woman whose story just made me sweat buckets of bitterness. It was almost a little embarrassing.

We gave it another week before I called the adoption agency to put a hold on things.  I felt horribly guilty about that, by the way -- I felt like I was abandoning these children who had already seen a lifetime's worth of abandonment.  We cancelled a trip to Mexico that we had booked months ago to "relax and move on."  It was still normal the next week.  The week after that was the first ultrasound -- the first opportunity to see my baby!

But it wasn't there.

And my blood levels had dropped.

Crash.  I don't think I can even write about this.  I barely even remember half of it.  I spent the next couple days in a daze.  Two days later the levels had risen again, but there was still no embryo.  It seemed like my body just couldn't make up its mind.  Eventually the doctors had to rule it as ectopic, and there's only one thing you can do with one of those.

Knife. Heart. Blood.  You get it.

I hardly know how or when it changed again.  It's kinda blurry.  But the Reece's Rainbow angels saved me.  I was lost.  They were too.  We went back to square one and started the adoption process over.  It was not smooth sailing, not yet.  Slowly, the serendipity of the previous weeks returned.  I don't look back now.

As a teenager, I remember a little allegory that I once heard in church.  It was about a man in a boat who needed to go home to his family and prayed endlessly for a northerly wind to take him there.  But all he got were southerly winds.  And later (apparently much later) when he asked the Lord why his prayers had gone unanswered, the Lord replied the on the other side of the river was another man praying for a southerly wind to take him home to his own family, who were sick.

 In a few months, if all goes well, we will be bringing Yale out of an orphanage and into our home.  We prayed for northerly winds but he needed southerly ones.

I don't know why things happen the way they do.  I don't know if there is some all-encompassing "plan" for our lives -- I go back and forth on that pretty much daily, maybe hourly.

But I know that I almost had it.  I almost had the story.  It didn't work out that way, did it?

I got a better story.


  1. You most definitely did!!! Hugs sweetie! You will be a wonderful Momma to Yale, he IS your miracle. He just doesn't know it yet.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. It is remarkable. I wish everyone could see the true need of so many precious and perfect children such as Yale who desperately need parents. Big thanks to your sister for pointing you toward your little one.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. God is good. His plan is always good! Yale is darling and I am so happy for you!

    Rachelle (adopting Gideon/Eddie in 54)

  4. @Positively Orphaned

    When it comes to my sister-in-law and this process, thanks don't even cover it! She and I talk about it all the time -- and both of us are simply amazed at how things worked out! (And then she'll say to me, "I'm SO glad you didn't pick Tanner!")

  5. I'm in tears....what a touching post! I think you will help more children reach their families when others in your same situation have a chance to read your blog. Thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable and share something so personal and yet so applicable to so many others.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing. We have had our own roller coaster infertility/adoption journey. I SO understand the heartbreaking cycle of hope and disappointment. We now have a three-year-old daughter who was adopted domestically, and we are in the process (hopefully...if a certain list changes!) of adopting two positive kiddos from EE. I'm excited to hear more about your adoption adventure.