When do we start a family? Often a couple will ask themselves this question after they have been in a committed relationship for a while. Starting a family is a big step and requires the undivided attention of all parties involved. Once the decision has been made, the trying phase begins. This part always sounds fun and exciting, but in reality, it can become a stressor.
When my husband and I had been married almost a year, we decided it was time to start thinking about having a baby. In all actuality, I was baby hungry. So, my husband conceded and the process began. We became pregnant rather quickly. Two years later, we agreed it was time to add a sibling. Again, we got pregnant right away. We thought this family planning thing was going to be easy. Little did we know what lay ahead for us.
With my husband completing his degree and uncertain of future work, we made the decision to wait a few years before adding to our family. We are both from large families and knew we wanted several children of our own. During this time, I decided to pursue a career in the medical field. I was fortunate to get a part-time position with on-the-job training as a medical assistant. I was able to learn new skills and still have the time I desired to raise my girls. However, after four years, I began wanting another baby.
Considering our past history, we just assumed it would be easy to get pregnant the third time around. After just three months with no success, I began to think there may be something wrong. I had some blood work done and nothing appeared to be abnormal. This is when the fun was supposed to start. It was suggested that we start taking my temperature each day and watch for peaks to indicate ovulation. We were instructed to have sex during those days when my temperature would spike (as this increased the chances of conception). Filling a page with “x’s” sounds like everyone’s dream, right? That’s when the fun ended and trying for a baby became a source of stress. I began having severe pain in my abdomen, so I underwent an exploratory laparoscopy which revealed very little in regards to my inability to conceive.There was concern that I might have endometriosis, but luckily I did not. I continued to have discomfort each month during ovulation. That was supposed to be a good sign because it meant my ovaries were working. A three month trial period of Clomid proved to be futile.
I increasingly became more depressed and the monthly reminder of no baby brought bouts of tears. After years of fertility testing for both me and my husband, we decided to try artificial insemination (AI). We attempted AI twice with no success. After our second attempt, I developed an infection and was advised not to try the procedure a third time. I was very discouraged at this point. I was consumed with wanting another baby. Each month I would become more distant as the possibility of pregnancy seemed more and more out of reach. The relationship between my husband and I became very strained. I was not easy to live with. I had to refocus on the blessings of my two daughters and the reality that this may be our family.
After four years of infertility, my husband suggested adoption. I guess you could say that this is when we finally decided to stop trying for a baby. We had discussed it briefly, but didn’t think it would be necessary to pursue it. He was sure that if we adopted, then the rest of our family would come. Often well-wishers would offer advice such as, “just relax and quit thinking so much about it,” or “if you adopt, then you’re sure to get pregnant.” Although well-meaning, these kinds of comments just proved to infuriate us more. We had done everything we knew how to do. Adoption was our next option.
We began to research everything there was to know about adoption. We completed the necessary paperwork and had our home study done. I searched websites for children waiting to be adopted. We talked to local doctors only to find out that more and more young girls were keeping their babies. We looked into international adoption, church adoption services, private adoption, and several different agencies.
We started working with a private attorney and after several months with no success, we decided to add to our options. We were fortunate to have connections to another adoption attorney in our state. My sister connected us with them and we quickly submitted our profile. Open adoptions had just started becoming more popular and—though we had been hesitant in the past—when this became an opportunity, we jumped at the chance. We met our potential expectant mother and the ball started rolling. Within a few months, we were face to face with our new baby boy!
The old adage of “adopt a baby and you’ll get pregnant” rang true for us. Just as my husband had predicted, the rest of our family did indeed come. When our new son was five months old, I got pregnant with a healthy baby boy. The two grew up just 14 months apart and did everything together. What one didn’t think of, the other would. Some days, I wasn’t sure if any of us would make it through alive. With the help of two big sisters, life continued.
Several years later, we again decided to add to our family. Again, we struggled for years. This time we turned to foster parenting to fill the void and hopefully lead to adoption. During this time, I got pregnant and had a miscarriage. This was a good sign as it indicated that I could still conceive. A few short months later, I got pregnant again and we briefly stopped the foster care until I was healthy enough to handle the additional stress. I was able to carry another healthy baby boy, but we still felt like something was missing. When our newborn was 5 months old, we received a call from the State regarding a 2-and-a-half-year-old little girl who would soon be available for adoption. After 21 years, our family was finally complete and we did indeed stop trying for a baby.
We have never stopped trying. We have just put it in the Lord’s hands. Our chances of getting pregnant are pretty slim unless we do IVF. So, we decided to adopt to start our family. We have learned to cope with the monthly heartache that my body sends to let me know that—once again—there is no baby. As Christians, we believe that God can do miracles and we still continue to pray for a pregnancy, but are also in the process of praying over the option of adopting again to give our daughter siblings. I grew up one of six and have the desire for a large family, and if adoption gets us there, we believe it is a beautiful way to grow a family.
We get asked a lot if we adopted because of infertility. But, adoption landed in our laps while we were in the midst of fostering. An opportunity came to us that we felt led to move towards and we were able to start our family.
There have been times in my marriage where I’ve said I’m done trying, but it has always been a blanket statement I’d make out of hurt. At the end of the day, I’ll never stop hoping and still continue to have an open heart to adopt again.
We had done 5 years of infertility treatments. At this point, we had done just about everything. We had a few leads about what was going on, but no true answers. Everything was pretty inconclusive. The treatments themselves never worked, but there were 2 times in between treatments that I got pregnant and then miscarried around 11 weeks. After the second miscarriage (which came after treatments were finished), I was very done with the route we were on. I was tired of hormones and the roller coaster. So, after much prayer, we decided to jump on a different roller coaster! I was ready to start our family and was willing to look at other routes to get there. My body was so exhausted. I was able to take my grief and exhaustion in a different direction. Once we made the decision to adopt, I was in turbo mode. Working on all the paperwork and appointments really helped me focus on something new. My husband had always been open to adoption, but we didn’t know it would be our first step in starting our family.
Adoption is seriously one of the very best things to happen to us and our very rocky road to get there made it even better. Our little boy is now 4 and is more than we ever knew to hope for!
Kayla and her husband were in the beginning process of a second adoption when a doctor suggested a new treatment if she was interested in trying to get pregnant. At first she was hesitant because she was very happy with adoption and tired of putting hormones and other things into her body. After turning to prayers she decided to try it. This time, the treatment resulted in healthy twins; a girl and a boy!
The National Infertility Association describes an infertile couple’s grief as being similar to that of losing a loved one, especially for a woman. Imagine feeling that grief on a monthly basis for multiple years. Author Brenda Thornlow, describes her experience of going through infertility treatments as a “nightmare.” The phone call from the doctor informing you of a failed artificial insemination is devastating to say the least. She and her husband decided to “close the fertility chapter” of their lives. She says, “don’t get me wrong— we were not happy about having to abandon our dream of a Minnie-Me or two, but I have to admit, the thought of not having to try anymore was quite liberating. Birth announcements and news of pregnant friends still brought about bouts of depression but I could focus on my next [trip] instead of my next cycle.”
There are other factors that you have to face after making the decision to quit trying for a baby. Your bank account and your body have both undergone a lot of trauma over the past years. There is a lot of recovering to do. This will not happen overnight. Physical, emotional, and mental stress have consumed you for part of your life and the healing process may take awhile. Trying to have a baby is hard work. You and your partner will gain empathy for those going through it and hopefully people will share that empathy with you knowing what you have gone through. There will still be those few with comments like, “well, now you’ll get pregnant” or “ you never know, it still might happen!” While these people are trying to be encouraging, those who have made the decision probably do not want to hear that. Some couples never conceive and some couples never have the option of pregnancy. My friend, Shawna, knew at a young age that she would never conceive. She felt useless as a woman and felt she had very little to offer in a marriage. She and her husband adopted two boys and completed their family.
Just as it takes courage to start a family, it takes courage to stop trying. For us—in the end—it came down to the fact that we were older and we felt our family was complete.
Cindy Hill has seen all sides of the adoption triad throughout her life. At the age of 9, she watched as her sister placed her baby for adoption. She married her high school sweetheart who had two adopted siblings and later adopted two of their six children. Adoption is a blessing in her life. Cindy and her husband recently sold their home of 26 years and became empty-nesters. They currently live in a destination trailer on their oldest daughter’s property along with their two dogs and a small herd of cattle. Cindy’s hobbies include going to garage sales, decorating, teaching piano lessons, spending time with grandchildren, and writing. She is a Teacher’s Aide in the Science department of a charter school. She and her husband also enjoy traveling together. Writing gives Cindy a chance to reflect on life and look at it from other points of view as well.