An Anxious Affair

Because she lived in Texas, we were able to get to know “our” wonderful birth mother through emails, texts, FaceTime and phone calls over the next several months. She was about 14 weeks along when she contacted us (due December 2013) so we were able to attend her ultrasound appointments through FaceTime and she was amazing at keeping us informed of doctor appointments and whatnot. I absolutely loved getting to know this sweet, brave girl. The husband and I found ourselves getting excited and planning future family vacations.. I was all over making plans to decorate the nursery.. We were beside ourselves with excitement laced with the anxiety of what could happen. What if she changed her mind? She was so sure that adoption was her choice, but minds can always be changed and she had a good 6 months since contacting us to do it. She was going through a divorce situation where her husband was not the birth father (BF didn’t want anything to do with the baby) and she wanted her baby to have both a father and a mother every day. Side by side. Traveling through life together. I can’t tell you how hard I tried every day to show her that we were a strong, loving couple.. Exactly what she was looking for! Haha Actually, she got to know us pretty well over those 6 months.. Flaws, corks and all. It was definitely a roller coaster of emotions, though, the whole way through..

 

The day we found out we were having a baby boy, I had a couple of my sisters and my mother in law come over to my house bright and early at 7am. We also had my mom on the phone (of course) from Utah. We turned it into an event that morning! As we face timed with her at her ultrasound, I was able to project it onto the TV screen for everyone to see (thanks AppleTV)! So amazing that even though we were thousands of miles apart, we could still experience some of the joys of being expectant parents. We owe her so much for allowing us that.

We were also able to make a trip out to Texas to meet her and her family in September. We already knew both of her parents from when we lived there as well as her brother and his wife and little boys (one of which was the baby who was born around the same time that my baby was due the year prior <when I had the miscarriage>). We were treated so kindly by her family, a few of which weren’t exactly thrilled that she was choosing adoption.. but Texans are generally just kind people and we felt like part of the family by the time we left. 

As we decided what kind of adoption we wanted to have for our baby, the choice was so clear. We wanted an open adoption. We had already developed a close relationship with our birth mother and her family and wanted our son to know just how many people would love him from all over the country his entire life! We were so grateful to this woman for the choice she was making that we wanted her to watch him grow up and see the happiness that she allowed him to have through her sacrifice. 

  

As the due date grew closer, we became more and more excited, nervous and allowed ourselves to plan on bringing our baby home! I made that nursery that I’d dreamed about for years come to life, we even were so bold as to throw ourselves a baby shower. I always loved when I got comments from people (who were just people that casually found out we were planning to adopt, not personal friends mind you) saying, “she’s probably going to change her mind. I’d prepare myself if I were you.” Hahaha wait, what?!?! You mean there’s an alternate scenario where our hearts are completely broken and we don’t get to become parents as planned after all?? I hadn’t thought about that at all.. not even once. Thank you so much for making me aware of that possibility! Ya, people suck.. Everyone knew about our baby boy and I’m sure lots of people were praying for us. The best was definitely yet to come, though… Meeting him was the greatest moment of our lives.

A Decision to Adopt

My husband changed jobs about a year after we moved to Austin and started working downtown. We both did, actually… it was about a 30 minute drive (when there was absolutely no traffic.. which was rare) to work for each of us every day from our apartment. So we made the decision to move a lot closer to downtown! It was the best decision ever.. we moved into a tiny apartment right next to the greenbelt and paid more for it than we ever could’ve imagined paying for something so small! We absolutely loved it, though. We decided that since baby things weren’t happening for us right now, we’d adopt a pup.

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She is adorable and loving and energetic… and she and I went on two walks every day up and down the hills of our neighborhood (looking back I was in friggin awesome shape!). She helped to heal up some of the emptiness we felt from being childless. The miscarriage had a huge impact on me emotionally and it was everything I could do not to dwell on it all of the time. One of my closest friends in Austin had gotten pregnant around the exact time I was pregnant.. it had been so fun to announce our pregnancies to each other one evening as we were watching the Bachelorette.. but then I lost mine. And she didn’t which I’m so grateful for.. but it also was extremely difficult to track what would’ve been my pregnancy progress through hers. I did a few more IUI procedures over the next year after the miscarriage. None of which were successful. I believe I was lucky enough to experience a total of six IUIs.

It was around this time, around May 2012 when we felt inspired to start the adoption process. We had always talked about adoption… that maybe we could have a couple bio kids and then adopt a little later on down the road. It’s interesting how the pathway of life allows you to move and change in ways you never imagined. Or forces you, in some cases. The option for IVF was there, of course, but it was so expensive and not a guarantee of success. I didn’t feel like I had any more fertility procedure strength within me anymore. When I thought long and hard about the option of adoption, I got super warm and fuzzy inside and it all just felt… right. We called up the contact at LDS Family Services which is who we chose to go through first (we planned on researching additional adoption services if we needed to once getting a home study done through them). On paper the adoption process doesn’t look super daunting. You have several things you need to get in order- medical files, application information including previous residences etc., letters of recommendation from friends… Realistically the process would take a while for us. Just as we were almost ready for our home study (where someone will come to our home, ask us questions face to face, do somewhat of an inspection, etc), my husband received a job opportunity back in Las Vegas. ūüė≥ It was strange to try to imagine ourselves back in Las Vegas, but we did miss being so close to our families. Especially since some of our greatest heartache and trials had been while living in Austin.. but we also truly loved Austin!! Such a difficult decision to make. My husband had been career searching since coming to Texas, hoping that something he really wanted to do long term would come along.. but it never really did IN Texas. He had a couple great jobs that could have been careers, but I guess he was looking for something a little more fulfilling. This opportunity back in Las Vegas was just that. It would allow us to purchase a home, put down some roots.. so we decided it’s what we needed to do. Now, do we ever regret making that decision to move away from a city we love to come back to the desert? Yes, on occasion. It was a great adventure and it’s hard not to look back and wonder if we could’ve also made a wonderful life out there long term. Even now, almost 3 years later, we feel “homesick” for so many Texas things daily….. (can you say breakfast tacos??)

Because we planned on moving in September, we needed to put the adoption process on hold for a little while. We would be moving into my in-law’s basement for a couple months while we found a house and we didn’t want to have to do two separate home studies, make my in laws pay for background checks (because everyone in the house would have to get one done) and plus, we were hoping to purchase our first home after making a huge move back across the country, so finances were a little (a lot) tight. We found our home and closed on it December 2012. We were finally able to begin the process again here in Nevada! We were now working with a completely different caseworker (new state) and had to do several things all over again. My husband also had to move up to Northern Nevada for about 4 months come January for a police academy, so it was a bit of a stressful, weird time for us. The process moved along, though, and we met with our caseworker any time we needed to while my husband was in town and managed to get our home study done! We were anxious and ready to find our baby and knew that the matching process with adoption could take anywhere from 1-3 years from the time our profile was posted on the website! That’s a scary and daunting estimate when it’s already been 3+ years of infertility..

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In March 2013, our profile posted on LDSFS’ website. We had strategically written out our “letter to the birth parents”, chosen photos, tried to look super cool in the Q&A section and spread the word to every friend and family member we could think of. Our caseworker said that it was necessary to let everyone know that we were hoping to adopt.. that this could help lead us to the birth mother that could choose us as parents for her baby. We received so much support from everyone we spoke to about our situation and even had several people contact us with the hope that they had a family member that was pregnant and thinking about adoption. But none of those really panned out.. and we prayed that we would find our baby soon.

In June, just 3 months after posting our adoption profile, we received an email from a birth mom that was thinking about placing her baby for adoption. It was the first contact that we’d received and it was so incredibly exciting! She was due in December and asked lots of questions. She was beautiful and wise and seemed like such a kind person. My husband, being somewhat untrusting of placing our hearts in a possibly disappointing situation, seemed uneasy the evening after receiving the email. It’s true she said she hadn’t actually decided whether she was choosing adoption or not for her baby, but I still found some optimism in even being contacted! It was the first glimmer of hope we’d received in a long time. We continued to have some correspondence with her over the next couple days.. being cautious with our hearts and guarded hopes, just trying to get to know her. But then her emails stopped coming and our hearts definitely felt the pang of disappointment.

That same week we received the email from that potential birth mom, we were on our way to my sister’s house one evening. I was flipping through my emails on my phone when I came across one from LDSFS’ contact page again. It was from another expecting birth mom! Excitement bubbled in me as I read the email out loud to the husband.. she told us a little about her situation, said that she had loved our profile and hoped that we would consider adopting her baby! Chills shot up my arms and I started to get emotional. I then got to a section of the email where she said that there was an important thing we needed to know. That she was actually the sister and sister in law of some good friends of ours that we’d made while living in Texas. I looked at Jake and he grabbed my hand just as we pulled up to my sisters’ house. We were both shaking and re-read the email about 3 or 4 times before walking inside. The feeling we had come over us as we read her words was not something we expected. We hadn’t exactly felt it with the email we’d received just a few days earlier. The contrast of emotions was pretty significant. We should have been guarded right from the beginning.. that’s what you do with your heart, right?? But we were filled with the knowledge that everything works out in an unexpected, but beautiful way.. when we least expect it. The reason we moved to Texas on a whim without knowing a soul felt more calculated then ever..

A Different Kind of Normal

My husband graduated college in 2010. Not the greatest time to search for a career as we were deep into a recession. We decided to take a crazy chance and embark on an adventure halfway across the country. We made the move to Austin, TX. We’d never been there before, didn’t know a soul and didn’t have any job prospects. So basically, we were totally set! Ha..

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Austin is an incredible city full of amazingly kind people. There’s talent beyond belief in both music AND food. Breakfast tacos were pretty much a daily staple. The scenery is beautiful and unique both downtown and among the rolling hills. Our time in Austin was a dream… and also some of our most difficult years! It was a crazy contrast at times. We were thousands of miles away from our families and the craving for littles of our own was stronger than ever. We really wanted to make a life there, but also struggled with figuring out just how to make it all work! I found an amazing OBGYN there who also happened to be a fertility specialist. Over the course of about a year and a half, It was determined I had PCOS, rotated between trying to kill the cysts off with birth control and taking fertility drugs like Femara (because I already knew how much I hated Clomid!) and then back to a month of birth control here and there to kill the cysts off again that the wonderful fertility drugs grew… ¬†I also underwent six painful IUI procedures during this time- all of which were unsuccessful at getting me pregnant. It was a roller coaster.. Every month you’re filled with hope and yet the same daunting feelings overcome your world over and over. focusandbreath In the middle of this “aggressive” time in our lives, I had a laparoscopy done to remove cysts where my doctor found moderate Endometriosis that he also removed at that time.¬†The month after the laparoscopy procedure, a sweet little miracle happened. We were planning on taking a few months off¬†of fertility procedures and… Bam I got pregnant!¬†

It was quite the shock. I remember taking the test that morning, waking¬†my husband (he worked graves and was exhausted) and when I showed it to him, he thought it was an ovulation detector stick, rolled over thinking I was telling him it was time to “make a baby” (anyone struggling with infertility knows this task can become somewhat mechanical). Haha.. After two years of fertility meds and procedures, I got pregnant naturally. Life is funny. Life is also cruel.. as we found at 8 weeks along, it was actually a¬†Blighted Ovum¬†and the overwhelming happiness turned to an empty cavern in my heart. I went through a¬†D&C¬†and all of a sudden I was back to being a barren, infertile person. It was an awful time.

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(My cat, Bug, laid by my side through the dark recovery.)

You find a way to pick up the pieces after life hits you with disappointment. You keep moving forward, you laugh with your loved ones. You keep making decisions and allow happiness to settle¬†in. Honestly, I can’t remember much about the next few months… I guess I took some time¬†off to refocus. Life in Austin continued and we truly enjoyed experiencing all it had to offer over the next year or so..

A Strong Beginning

I married my husband when I was twenty-three years old.

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That first year was hard for some reason, I guess it was just the adjustment to living with someone and whatnot.. everything they tell you is going to be difficult that first year. My husband is a very smart, adventurous and charming¬†man (he might’ve told me to say that last one)… and in our seven years of marriage we have become all meshy and close and like-minded.

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After that first year, we started talking about starting our family¬†and six months later, began “trying”. There’s never been a real history¬†of infertility in my family (or so I thought when I began the baby-making journey) but¬†after a couple months of negative pregnancy tests, I started getting a little worried. Thanks to Google, I discovered that it’s perfectly normal for it to take six months to a year to get pregnant even though it seemed like everyone I knew got pregnant simply¬†by standing next to their spouse on a hot day. I didn’t share my troubles with anyone for that first year. Then¬†I decided to go talk to my OBGYN. Honestly, she didn’t run too many tests on me… but rather put me on Clomid¬†for several months. Living in the desert during summer while on a medicine that causes severe heat flashes made life extra fun.

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It also made me bat shit crazy. So that’s cool.

Little did I know, this was just the beginning of a long relationship (like one of those relationships where you really hate the person) with fertility drugs, procedures, miscarriage and the absolute hell of infertility.  The enormous struggle I was made to endure for several years. Through challenge, we gain strength.. or so they say. I believe that now, of course, looking back from the comfort of my present, full-hearted situation.. but at the time I felt utterly defined and crippled by it.

The Empty and the Everything

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I had a plan. It wasn’t an extravagant or complicated plan… but as they say, plans rarely turn out the way you expect¬†them to. The road I traveled¬†down was laced with loss, heartache, surprise, adventure and has resulted in real life miracles in the form of naked, screaming, little babies. And in retrospect, it was worth every ounce of pain to feel the happiness that comes from being a mama. Ask me, say, three years ago if I thought I’d ever feel that the crushing heartache might be “worth it” and I don’t think I could’ve possibly believed that… but miracles tend to work out that way. When you least expect them to.