Three years ago this past Sunday, I found out I was (most likely) going to be become a mother.
Five days later, I found out I was pregnant.
Here’s how that happened.
In February of 2004, we were nearing the end of the road with fertility treatment. We’d done three Clomid IUIs, with no luck. I ovulated like a champ on Clomid, but neither sex nor insemination got egg to meet sperm. In retrospect, I realize the horrible IVF mill of a clinic we were going to because it was the only one that took the insurance we were blessed to even have was probably timing IUIs wrong. That place and their stunningly incompetent receptionist (seriously, how does someone who answers the phone in a fertility clinic NOT understand the concept of cycle days?) is a whole ‘nother post someday.
So, after undergoing the last, painful, miserable IUI and wondering what our next step was, I made an appointment with the doctor. (snotty receptionist: “You want to see the doctor? On whose authority?” Me, as icily as I could muster: “As I am the patient (you horrid bitch), My Own.”)
That meeting was one of the most devastating of my life. I remember sitting there with Paul and going numb as the doctor tried to push us into a course of IVF we’d already been very clear we’d ruled out. Mind, I am not anti-IVF for anyone but myself; we could not afford it, and even if we could, the idea of spending $10,000 on one cycle that might or might not work was terrifying. We’d already decided that being parents was the goal, not necessarily having a genetic connection to our kids. I’d already gone to one international adoption meeting and started researching agencies, and the money we could spend on IVF would go to adoption instead
Thus, I resented mightily this doctor sitting in his cushy office and implying that clearly we weren’t committed to parenthood because we didn’t want to waste thousands more of our precious dollars with him. He even started quoting us odds of success I knew damn well were ridiculous: 75-80 percent. The most fertile person on the damn plant doesn’t have those kinds of odds with IVF and clearly, after 2 and a half years of trying, I was not that person.
Finally, he dropped the bomb: “If you’re not willing to do IVF, you have less than a one percent chance of getting pregnant.”
Paul and I left the office in a haze, passing the Holocaust Museum then going up nearby, and settled into a Starbucks to talk and regroup. We were both devastated and angry, too
Stunned to cry or rant.
Finally, though, I shook it off, and we almost immediately decided we’d take a few months break before making any decision, and hell, maybe that last IUI actually worked, you know? (all my infertile or formerly so readers can take a break to snicker here)
About ten days later, I got a call from an adoption agency we’d attended an orientation at several months before. The impression we had was that they concentrated almost exclusively on adoptions of kids from the foster system, and special needs kids at that, so we’d never done much beyond filling out the introductory form at the orientation meeting.
The social worker said she’d been reviewing our application and that she saw we were interested in a healthy white infant. Were we still interested in adopting?
“Holy crap,” I thought.
“Yes, we are, and honestly healthy or white are negotiable, but we do want a baby.”
Well. A young woman (this is always what they called her. I know some consider calling her “birth mother” unfair or dehumanizing, which is why I have chosen not to use it. As I don’t know how the story ended, and she preferred a mostly closed adoption I know almost nothing else about her) had begun working with them and was considering placing her child. Would we be interested in being considered?
Oh hell yes.
As expected, a few days later my period arrived, signaling the end of the road for our pregnancy dreams. As did, the same day, the packet of paperwork we needed to fill out for the young woman to review as she made her decision. It felt like a sign from God, that the very day the door of biological motherhood was closed to me, the paperwork arrived that could help make me a mother after all.
I put all my writerly energy to use on this packet. It was a thing of beauty. We sent it out, and tried to forget about it. Somewhere in there, I knew I was ovulating and we had sex, but given that the same damn thing had happened countless other months, I didn’t give it another thought.
I should note here that LOTS of people gave us the old “See, you stopped worrying about it and you got pregnant!” line. The fact that I managed to not kick anyone in the head while pregnant and hormonal is something I am proud of.
If you’re reading this and think that’s a valid comment and why would I be pissed off: 1) Why are you here? Perhaps TMZ.com would be more your speed, Bambi and 2) Being told we’d never have a biological child was heartbreaking beyond almost anything else I’ve yet experienced. While sending off the paperwork gave us some hope, it also opened us up to yet more channels of heartbreak and loss. No, we weren’t thinking about getting pregnant, but we were mired in sadness mixed with lots of nervous tension.
A few weeks later, the morning after St. Patrick’s Day, I was busily working in my home office when the phone rang. It was the agency. I knew the mother was making her decision about who she’d want to place with around then, and my heart started to beat wildly as I heard the social worker say she had some news.
“The young woman has looked over the packets, and she chose you and your husband.”
I started to shake. Then I started to cry. Then I called Paul and asked him what he was doing Tuesday, because how would he like to do a homestudy interview because we’d been chosen!!!! Such joy. It’s something I’ll never forget, ever, and bless that young woman for giving us that day even though things didn’t end as anyone planned. To be told we could be a family, finally, was an amazing gift.
That’s where I’ll end this post, to be picked up another day. But it’s far from the end of the story.