Today I’m sharing the incredibly personal story of my dear neighbors, The “S” family. It’s nearly impossible for me to adequately do their story of pregnancy, infertility, and adoption justice. I’m going to let them tell their story.
“I have a long love/hate relationship with pregnancy tests. The first two positives I got were a week or so before Valentine’s Day 2012. I wanted to wait until V-day to tell my husband, so I went and got a blood test the next day to absolutely confirm that I was in fact pregnant. The doctor came in confused, wondering why I thought I was pregnant because clearly nothing was positive in the office. Sad and crying because I was already excited, I told my husband what happened. I realized the two tests I took were expired that exact month, so instead of telling me nothing, they told me I was pregnant. Thus begins the long painful journey of starting our family.
The week leading up to Memorial Day 2012 I had a feeling I was pregnant for sure this time. I took 5-10 tests and they were all positive. I went to the doctor to confirm with a blood test. The nurse called to tell me I was pregnant but the numbers weren’t as high as I was anticipating. I rolled with it anyway. I told my husband it was legit and we began our quiet celebration. At 6 weeks and 2 days, walking on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach (visiting family), I was feeling an unknown pain and wasn’t sure what was happening. I dismissed it until the next day, sitting in the Baltimore, Maryland airport waiting to board our flight back to Birmingham. A pain greater than anything I had ever felt washed over me and I couldn’t stand, sit or walk. I decided I could suck it up and walk to our plane and endure the 1 hour and 45 minute flight. Because if we’re being honest, the ER visit would take at least 8 hours.
We landed, my husband ran to the car with our bags, I wobbled, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other trying not to bring too much attention to myself. We went straight to the ER. Since I had no idea what was happening, I embellished and said I was 7 weeks along thinking that would be more serious. They dismissed me to sit on the floor in a packed ER waiting room with no rush to get me back. We sat for hours. I thought I would pass out from the pain. I probably didn’t ask my husband very kindly to call around to other ER’s to see what the wait was, I probably demanded. He obliged and we were off to another ER that saw me immediately. After 6 hours there, we realized it was not like Grey’s Anatomy at all. No one was rushing me into surgery. They confirmed I was in fact pregnant, the baby was growing, but an internal ultrasound confirmed it wasn’t growing in my uterus. They sent me home. The following day I was taken into surgery. And just like that, I was no longer pregnant and down one fallopian tube. That was June 5, 2012.
I am not usually a positive person but I told myself I’d quickly get pregnant again. Well, I didn’t. Not until a few weeks before Christmas of the same year. This time, I got a few positive pregnancy tests, didn’t tell my husband, went and got blood work done to confirm and before I could get the results, I knew I was miscarrying. I got blood work done three times that week until it finally said I was no longer pregnant. Chemical pregnancy is what they call it. I was 5 weeks. I hated Christmas that year and cried in the bathroom a lot that morning while with my in-laws.
2013 came and went with a few fertility pills here and there that made me infuriated each month when they didn’t work. By Thanksgiving that year, my husband and I decided before moving straight to adoption, we wanted to see a fertility doctor to know what our chances were at getting pregnant with more assistance. Not only was the financial burden depressing, but the thought of losing that money and possible babies was even heavier. Round 1 of IVF got cancelled because the millions of shots weren’t working, we did an IUI even though doctors told me it wouldn’t work. Round 2 came early in 2014. In the beginning we were happy because they retrieved 10 eggs. All 10 fertilized (unheard of apparently). All survived and 3 days later, 8 of them were still kicking. Finally on day 5, we had 5 “babies”. I was so pumped going into transfer day. We were going to have that big family I always wanted after all. NOT.
We arrived that morning excited about our future. We were there for hours before the procedure. There I am, legs in the air ready for transfer and the doctor shows me a picture of two fertilized embryos and says she’s implanting those today. I asked why; we have 5. She said, “Oh, no one told you? Only 2 survived and they are both not of great quality so there is a greater chance of one taking if we implant both.” I thought we had 5 chances. I wasn’t mentally prepared to be implanted with two babies that morning, just one. The whole process was terrible and draining (emotionally and financially), and obviously it didn’t work. Neither stayed. We endured the snowpacalvpse of 2014 during all of this, UPS losing my expensive meds and having to replace them overnight. It was a nightmare process that we went through twice and it didn’t work. It was now almost April and we were done.
After taking a mental break for a few months, we kicked it into high gear figuring out where to start our adoption process in July 2014. After tons of research, we found out there were not many options in the state of Alabama, and all of them were very different from one another. Some charged upwards of $40,000 upfront. We went with an agency that was local but had offices in other states, while also being relatively cheaper at $26,000 (not including lawyer fees). We signed with them, filled out the 593 pages of paperwork and started our home study process. That home study should have been completed by Christmas 2014 at the latest. It didn’t get approved until September 1, 2015. To say I was annoyed would be an understatement. After that, we saw information about potential birth mothers about once a month. I was growing impatient, I was constantly sad about how we were getting older and my large family plans were quickly slipping away. Oddly enough, I hate hearing about how once people start the adoption process they get pregnant.
In March 2016, I was 100% positive I was pregnant. I just had a good feeling about it. I took 928 tests at home that were immediately positive. I got blood work done and confirmed with a larger number than the first time 4 years earlier. I was PUMPED. The first internal ultrasound found no baby in the uterus. The nurse claimed it was too early at 5 and a half weeks but I knew they should have been able to see a black blob of some sort, but not a flutter of a heart beat. I left trying not to be disappointed. I was feeling better than I did the first time. I even felt like I was constantly starving which didn’t happen the first time. At 6 weeks and 3 days (like clockwork) I was sitting in staff meeting and that familiar pain started. I walked quickly back to my office, called and texted my husband “911”. The pain had gotten worse quickly. I was on my knees crying in my office in total disbelief that it was happening again. My husband rushed to get me and while I waited, I prayed on my knees. I wasn’t mad at God. I haven’t been. I’ve been frustrated, sure. I figured it was just Him telling me this wasn’t the way we were to start our family. He had another child in mind that would not be biologically ours. I think he just needed me to know that pregnancy was not in the cards for us ever.
We got to the ER and they walked us right back. I wasn’t taking anyone’s crap this time. I knew what was happening and I told them. The confirmed it. How they confirmed it will give me PTSD for the rest of my life. An internal ultrasound showed a heartbeat so strong I could’ve kicked the nurse in the face with my foot for letting me hear it. The pain was so intense. I had to wait 6+ hours before they could perform surgery. It was 1,000 times worse than the first time. I cried, I writhed in pain. After the surgery was complete, I was told that I was bleeding internally (which is why I had “gained” weight). It was about 16 oz of blood pooled in my abdomen. I was so traumatized after that, I went to therapy because I was becoming so sad I couldn’t think about anything else. On March 29, 2016, I found myself no longer pregnant AGAIN and down a second fallopian tube.
We still saw around one birth mother info summary a month until October 2016, when one of them finally picked us! As far as adoptions go, our social worker has been blown away by how smoothly ours has worked out. She’s been doing this for 30 years and has never seen this kind of bond, love, and support. No drama. No fighting. We got a baby girl! We decided she’d have my maiden name, a name to share with her biological family and my husband’s last name. All 3 families represented in one special little girl that God picked out just for us. She is healthy, happy, a great sleeper, and makes me want to start the adoption process all over again tomorrow. We have to wait a full year before starting the process again. So the story of our family is “waiting”. It’s just what we do.
Just shy of 1 year since the end of my last pregnancy, we will be finalizing the adoption of our little peanut. Last year seems like decades ago, but my scars still remind me of those little babies that could’ve been.”