Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Motherhood, Infertility, and Indecision– My Personal Journey

I’ve been writing this post in my head for about a week now… Basically it’s about my journey into motherhood, and through a year of infertility, and moving forward with a decision about whether to keep trying or not.

I married late, at 34. Though we always wanted children, Rob and I decided to use birth control for the first few months of our marriage, so that we could get to know each other as husband and wife before adding a baby to the mix. When we had been married for about 5 months, we stopped using birth control. 5 months after that, on Oct 1, 2005, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. I was SO happy and excited! I remember the date because it is my brother’s birthday. 2 months later, my husband and I learned that the 2 embryos I was carrying – yes, twins – were not viable, and I was miscarrying. That was probably the most difficult thing I’ve lived through. I mourned for the babies that would never be born.

Two months after that, in January of 2006, I learned that I was pregnant again. I was not as excited this time, in fact Rob and I were very apprehensive, after what we had been through with the first pregnancy. I had some spotting early on, and I was terrified of losing this baby, too. We saw her heartbeat when I was only 7 weeks into my pregnancy, and we relaxed just a little. Once I got through the “danger zone” of the 1st trimester, we relaxed even more, but we did invest in a heartbeat monitor rental from a mail-order company, so that we could listen for her heartbeat at home. On September 16, 2006, Grace Marie was born. This amazing little person changed our lives forever – our hearts are still so full of love for her, and we are continually blessed and astounded at her growth and development, and at the person she is becoming.

For a while, we were content with our baby girl. Right after she turned 2 years old, we decided that we would be willing to have another child, if God should so bless us. So in October of 2008, we again ceased using birth control. After that, I expected every month that this would be the month. About a week before the start of my cycle, I would feel bloated, a bit nauseated, and hungry – very, very hungry. I thought – every month – surely, I am pregnant. Then – every month – my period would come. It starts with a little spotting – but not much. “Well,” I would think, “It could be implantation spotting…” but it never was. Over a year later, I am still not pregnant. Rob and I had said initially that we would give it until the end of this year. I turned 39 in November, and I do not relish the thought of being pregnant at 40 or beyond. As we approach the end of the year with just one child, we are still trying to process what to do. We recognize that it’s now or never. With 40 fast approaching (for me) and 45 hitting on New Year’s Eve (for Rob), we know that if we start using birth control again, that’s it. No more kids for us. There are pro’s and con’s to having another one, there always were. But the older I get, the higher the stakes are. Neither of us is interested in fertility treatments – it’s either meant to be or it’s not, and God does not need fertility treatments to “help” him. For those of you who are using them, I certainly respect your choice and I don’t have any problems with them in general, it is just not the right path for us.

Also for those of you who don’t have children, I can just hear your thoughts…”be glad you have the one…it could be worse.” You are right, I recognize your pain and I do not diminish it in any way.

I have a few close friends who have struggled with infertility.

One who has always loved children and has spent nearly her whole life ministering to them. A few years into her marriage, she had ovarian cysts and at least one ovary removed, and was medically unable to have children. She adopted a troubled 9 year old, poured her life, energy, love, and prayer into him, and he is now a marine.

One who, like me, married late – at 38, I think. She also always wanted children. After a year of trying to get pregnant, she and her husband decided to pursue adoption. After the home study was done and they were well into the process, she learned that she was pregnant, and she now has a little girl about a year younger than Grace is. They are again pursuing adoption, for a second child.

One who married much earlier than I did, but decided to wait to have children until quite recently. I am not sure where she is in her journey but I pray that God will bless her with a child.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is a young girl that I know who became pregnant as a result of being drugged and assaulted. She is choosing to carry the child to term and is trying to decide whether to give the baby up for adoption, or to keep her. She did not choose to be pregnant, but she is.

It is not for me to say why God gives and takes away, but it is difficult to understand Him sometimes.

I am very thankful for the child that I have. I am just disappointed and surprised that, after being pregnant twice before, I have been unable to conceive this past year. I am confused about what to do. All of my reasons for not having another child seem selfish – no more diapers, since Grace is finally (mostly) potty trained. No more sleepless nights, since she almost always sleeps through now. Nearly everything is easier with a 3 year old than it is with an infant. She can communicate her wants and needs clearly. She can do many things independently. There is also the financial aspect – I have been blessed to be home with her until this point. Being a graduate student has given me the freedom to raise her, rather than having to send her to daycare. We would likely not have that luxury with a second child – our finances are crying out for me to find a teaching job next fall. Then there is the fear. Fear of another miscarriage. Fear of having twins. Fear of being “old parents.”

Rob has said it’s ultimately my decision to make, since I would have to be the one getting up in the middle of the night and doing most of the child care. He is a full-time tenure track professor now, he does not and will not have the same amount of time and energy that he devoted to Grace should we have another child.

If you’ve made it this far… thanks. Your thoughts and comments are welcome. I leave you still undecided…

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