mothering & motherhood: infertility

before we were jdavis2 we were simply jarod & jennifer.  a very young couple embarking on the adventure of a lifetime – marriage.  we were so young that we thought we could write our lives out like a prescription… and fill it on our own good time.

even though we were young and innocently naïve there were a few things we knew.  we knew we loved each other.  we knew that marriage was a lifetime commitment.  and though i had teetered this way and that as to whether i wanted to have one or no children via birth i also knew i wanted to adopt.

that’s the point, we, individually, knew enough… but we didn’t know very much.

on may 22, 1999 we were happily, if not tiredly, wed.  it was a simple ceremony 2 hours away from where we lived… but many people joined us at that little church (which happened to be pastored by jarod’s uncle) i had visited when we first began our courtship some 3+ years earlier.  yes, the very one i had decided in my heart i wanted to be married in.  yep, i knew jarod was the one.  i’m sure no one would have described me as prideful *hum, um* but there were certainly enough things going according to {my} plan that looking back i was a bit too, if not utterly, self dependent.

when we married, jarod’s firm’s insurance coverage wouldn’t cover me if i got pregnant during that first year.  which in many ways was okay with us because we had a plan.  we were going to wait 5 years before we embarked on that great chain and ball called parenthood.  after all, i often explained, i was still so young myself (21) and i needed some time to mature.  seriously though, on a side note, that no coverage thing turned out to actually be a type of torture as each month i was scared out of my witz that my life, our world, was going to come to ruins if in fact i got pregnant… and the whole being young-and-jarod-still-earning-his-stripes (ie. not making much money) put quite a damper on what should have been some fun and more carefree days.

but then again, if i hadn’t been so prideful and thinking my life was mine to control maybe i would have enjoyed that first year a lot more.

needless to say, before our first 5 years were up i was already getting the mommy bug.  i still wasn’t eager to experience pregnancy and very fearful of birth but we decided it would be okay if we did start our family.  so we began “not-not trying” to conceive and we began to wholeheartedly look into adoption.

over the course of a couple of months we realized to my extreme disappointment that at that time we could not pursue adoption.  for one, china had a rule that we both had to be 30 to even apply… and at that time 30 seemed so far off it was incomprehensible.  when we looked into other countries there was always some stipulation or requirement we didn’t meet… until one day i happened upon an adoption agency working in kazakhstan.  from there i met, via pictures and description a 3 year old boy.  i fell in love with him at first sight.  i inquired for more information and they sent me a video.  he was precious… and to my eyes and heart, perfect.  unfortunately there were two requirements on their part that seemed to make adopting him an impossibility.  the first, and typically the most difficult one was money.  the adoption costs listed were much higher than any others we’d seen but i rationalized that for the sake of this child we could make it work.  so i went about trying to convince jarod of this possibility.  but the second requirement that jarod had was that they were in good standing with the bbb.  unfortunately for this special little boy this was not the case.  so coupled with the complaint with the bbb and the financial strain it would put on us jarod had to tell me “no.”  i was heartsick.  there is absolutely no other way to describe the pain of thinking you’ve found your child and being told, by the person you love and trust the most, “no”.  to this day, nearly 10 years later i still remember his name… and my heart still breaks for him.

but i had to trust jarod.  our marriage depended on it.

over the course of the next several years, 7 to be exact, i went on and off birth control pills.  off in hopes of becoming pregnant… then on again as my menstrual pain increased each month.  from youth i was never given a reason for my discomfort other than, “bad periods” so i continued to follow the advice of my ob/gyn who constantly reminded me that i was young and under 30 so there was nothing to worry about.

[in 2005 we began trying desperately to become pregnant.  those were my darkest days for the very simple and profound reality that i had undiagnosed infertility… coupled with great pain… which on one occasion was attributed to depression then at another doctor’s visit my sanity was questioned.]

unfortunately for both of us, my original ob/gyn was wrong.  at 27 my pain increased to the degree that i was in bed each month for 2 or 3 weeks.  at 28 i was matter-of-factly (read: without even a morsel of compassion) told, “you probably have endometriosis and will probably never have children.”

and just like that my understanding of my world and how i could control it splintered into a million sharp fragments and i couldn’t put the pieces back together.  with each attempt it was as if i was handling a small piece of mirror… the edges jagged and cutting deep… and with each piece i saw my own flawed reflection.

i had for too long put too much stock in my own understanding, my own plans, trying to manipulate life to meet my own wants.

but this i knew that i knew that i knew… the Lord had place adoption on my heart… and it was his desire that on my 30th birthday we turn in our adoption paperwork.  this was no longer just my plan but a confirmation of the greater plan for our lives.

so even as we learned what endometriosis is (i had never heard the word previously) and worked to fix it i continued to have multiple setbacks.  my first laparoscopy came up empty.  no endometriosis was found.  and though i felt better afterwards it was short lived and the pain returned.  but the real pain was in my heart… as each month thereafter without getting pregnant meant continued infertility… and the increased chance that i would never be able to conceive.

the following year i had my 2nd laparoscopy.  this time a teenie tiny bump was extracted.  and the joy of having a reprieve from this (for me) life wrecking illness and the hope of conceiving returned.  yet, month after month passed as the description “undiagnosed infertility” covered me like a wet blanket.

then, true to God’s perfect plan we turned in our adoption paperwork to china on my 30th birthday.  it was the most joyous birthday i’d had in all my life.  and it was the most anticipated!  though we were living on the other side of the globe from our family and friends in the western hemisphere there were many who made it a super special occasion.  eventually (what a simple, simple word to describe 2+ years of intense waiting/pain/fear) we did receive our long awaited referral.  we were finally parents!!!  i was 32 years old.  our 5 year plan had morphed into 10+.

at that magical moment in our lives we were back in the states for an extended period of time.  so, we chose to continue with our prearranged plans of seeking fertility treatments.  what at first was our last ditch effort at trying to become parents turned into a desire for sterling to have a sibling.  what two very different desires/thoughts/emotions!

after several months i experienced the second most humbling, most astounding, most profound event of my life – i was told i was pregnant.  and that is when my diagnosis – the torture of infertility – lifted its stubborn curse on my life.

now, that isn’t to say that at that moment all the pain of the past 11 years passed like a shadow in the night… because it certainly didn’t.  but comparing the before – never knowing if it was even a possibility – and that moment – realizing that it was – made a wave in my heart that overflowed with hope.  at the same time, living in such a desperate, painful reality for so long can not so easily be erased… the fault lines on my heart and in my thinking are deep for they are now a part of me, how i think, how i respond, how i act.

let me just say, for me, infertility was the most humbling, debilitating, humiliating, wretched diagnosis i’ve ever encountered.  it goes against all logic, all reason.  if you follow the rules of evolution it is downright damning.  if you adhere to a christian worldview, as i do, it’s confusing and disheartening at best.  it was during these painful years that i questioned God’s goodness the most.  i questioned his rightful place in my life… in my heart.  i questioned his plans, his purposes, his ways.  and almost every time i did i lost.  i lost hope.  i lost courage.  i lost the desire to trust him.  but something miraculous happened during this time as well.  i learned about my own sick desire to dictate my life… as if i could ever in a million years understand what is best for me.  and i learned what faith really is.  i learned to trust him in spite of my circumstances.  and i learned that he is in fact good… and just as importantly, he cares about all the details of my life.

however, there are some things you may want to keep in mind when talking to someone suffering from infertility.  for one, please don’t give pat answers.  i can’t tell you how many people told me i’d get pregnant within the year.  they were all wrong.  others told me that adoption is the cure for infertility.  what a wretched lie… and minimizing adoption to a formula for conception misses the beauty of what adoption is.  secondly, please treat them humanly.  just because they have what some may call a thorn in their flesh doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of your love, trust or compassion.  in fact, i have one such friend who is the most incredible aunt sterling could ever have.  she’s loving, kind and patient.  her inability to conceive in no way hinders her heart’s bigness.  and lastly, i ask that you refrain from assuming… anything.  we have some friends who’ve been married “long enough” and who are the last of all their friends to remain “childless”.  though they’ve told me on a couple of occasions that they’re not yet ready for children i try not to force the issue.  i try to be sensitive to the subject.  because they may be like us, keeping it low key until they can share the big news with the world.  or they may in fact be looking at me and all the other young families around them and think it is at this point in their lives too big of a commitment to actively pursue.  try not to assume… or judge.  because if in fact they are like us and countless others every time they hear about some out-of-this-world story (for us the whole octomom story was the big “why (not) me God?”)… or learn of some abusive or neglectful family member who just happened to accidently get pregnant or someone tells them they tried once and “there he/she is!”  (all of which happened to us) you’re actually heaping insult upon months, possibly years of emotional pain.  so please, in your comments, in your questions, be gentle and love big!  because infertility itself is enough of a monster we don’t need anything else to battle.

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2 thoughts on “mothering & motherhood: infertility

  1. Pingback: mothering & motherhood: honor thy mother | jdavis2

  2. Pingback: mothering & motherhood: the gift of a daughter | jdavis2

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