My Crazy "How I built my family" Story - the LONG version:
Buckle up… It’s a bumpy ride!
THE BACK STORY
Looking at me now, in my late 40s with 3 young boys lovingly destroying my house, you would never have known that I spent the majority of my life NOT wanting children…
I was born into this world as an orphan. Adopted a few days later, I was raised by my parents in the flatlands of Indiana.
Thirteen short years later, my mother died of cancer. Witnessing the slow and painful death of my mother made me resolve to live a full life she did not. I was going to live life to the fullest, sort of as an insurance policy, just in case I died young too.
I moved to California right after college and began working in the film industry. I traveled the world living life footloose and fancy free.
As I turned 30, however, I started soul searching for something more out of life. I left the “bad boys” behind and I began dating a different kind of man. I tracked down and met my birth mom for the first time. I got married to that “nice guy” I had been dating.
Jack - "the nice guy"
By my mid 30’s, another shift happened. My younger brother and sister started having children and as I rocked my newborn nieces in the middle of the night, I realized I was missing out on something truly magical. I felt a kind of love I had never experienced before and I started to open up myself to the thought of being a mother.
As my husband, Jack, and I embarked on the path of becoming pregnant, my desire for children grew stronger with each passing day my proverbial biological clock was ticking. After about a year of trying, it was off to the OB/Gyn for some basic testing.
NEEDLES, NEEDLES and MORE NEEDLES
Nothing came back as a red flag in our test results, so we plunged forward into artificial insemination. All in all, we did 9 IUI’s (artificial insemination) with none resulting in a pregnancy.
The first specialist we saw had been around since the start of all this modern babymaking - he even got a 67 year old woman pregnant! Surely he could get me pregnant, right?
One IVF later – still NOT PREGNANT!
Jack and I were subjected to a bunch more fertility testing. Jack even sent his sperm half way across the country for testing in a 3-foot tank on dry ice! We were told yet again that we had “unexplained infertility.”
The Sperm Tank
We forged on and attempted 2 more IVF’s. I was so pumped full of hormones that I literally became a raving lunatic. Each time, we had a few decent embryos to throw in my “cold uterus,” as my acupuncturist called it. But alas, the fancy doctor in his fancy clinic could not get me pregnant. I was crushed yet again.
Our doctor told us that our chances would be much better using an egg donor, but by this point, Jack and I were emotionally, physically, mentally and financially drained. Frankly, I just couldn’t do it any more. So we started on the road to adoption.
THE ADOPTION ADVENTURE
We signed up with a local adoption agency and were soon matched through a friend of a friend of a friend, with a birth mother due to give birth to a baby girl in just a few months! We were over the moon. A baby girl!! She was going to be born in the very same hospital in Indiana that I was born in. It was kismet! When we got the call that the birth mother was in labor, we dropped everything and immediately flew to Indiana with all of our baby gear in tow.
My Dad picked us up at the airport and we were off to meet our baby - whom we had already named Kayla. We took lots of photos and videos of us holding and loving on her that night. Once home, we could hardly sleep due to our excitement.
The morning eventually came with a call from the social worker. She informed us that Kayla was born with cocaine in her system and we needed to decide if we still wanted her. Without a beat, YES was our answer.
“Oh,” said the social worker, “and the birth mom said the baby looks a lot like her boyfriend…” My heart sunk. I knew the birth mom wanted to place her baby for adoption because she thought the father was someone other than her boyfriend.
We were on pins and needles all morning waiting for the birth mom to decide if she wanted to parent this baby or not. The dreaded call came… She was keeping the baby. Distraught over our loss, we flew back home with all our baby gear, but without a baby.
Amazingly a few short weeks later, another birth mom contacted us – we fell in love with Amy right away and we soon traveled from LA to Phoenix to meet in person.
She gave birth to Sawyer and we finally became parents for the first time. His birth was the best moment of my life!
Sawyer with his birth mom Amy
HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A BABY?
Three years later, I still really wanted to know the miraculous feeling of being pregnant. So much so, that this time around I was willing to use an egg donor - as long as we could find one willing to be open and not anonymous (a somewhat rare request).
Picking a donor is much like online dating – ironically both Jack and I picked the same donor within the first 5 minutes of separately looking at the website of profiles. We had a lot in common with the donor and she reminded us of Sawyer’s birth mom.
Unfortunately our doctor informed us with our donor's "advanced age" of 31, he gave us a 40% less likely chance it would work. Reluctantly I went for the better odds and picked another donor, but she had just found out she was pregnant. So we matched with our 3rd choice… But she went missing in action when things got serious. Our 4th pick was 20 years old, but our doctor said she was too young – we had to pick one who was at least 21. Huh?! I knew there must be a reason all these other donors were falling through. It was time to circle back to our first pick, even if she had “old eggs” and worse odds.
She produced over a dozen eggs and five turned into viable embryos! We decided to transfer two into me…
We got the call 10 days later. I had a chemical pregnancy, which is essentially a very early miscarriage. I was so conflicted with feelings. First off, I was elated that I actually became pregnant for the first time ever in my life! But I was also disheartened that my body failed me again.
Faced with the decision about what to do with our 3 remaining frozen embryos, I sought out 2nd opinions from other doctors. Ultimately I decided I couldn’t go through the procedure with such a high risk it could fail again. It was just too emotionally and physically draining. Very reluctantly, I gave up.
THE ANGEL WHO GAVE US HOPE
A few months later, I was having dinner with a good friend of mine - my “little sister” from the Big Sisters of Los Angeles program. Venus was 7 when we were matched, but now at 28, with 2 children of her own, I spent the evening telling her about my failed journey. Her response was a very casual, “I would totally have a baby for you.”
A month later, after the legal, psych, medical testing and other paperwork was complete, we transferred a SINGLE thawed embryo into her - as we didn’t want to “risk twins”.
On an already planned European vacation, we were in France when we took the fateful call from the doctor…
To describe in words how I felt would simply not do it justice. Instead you can watch it here:
Upon our return from Europe, we went to the first ultrasound appointment to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. To our shock there was not just 1, but 2 babies!
I was going to be a mom to 3 boys!
There are so many other things that happened along the way, so many roadblocks that were thrown in our path. So many smaller events and details as well as even bigger emotions during the journey to build our family, but if I put them all in this story it would be a novel.
Everyone has a story with struggles – what’s yours and how can I assist you in writing your next chapter?