Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why Don't You Try to Adopt Again?

Klara, over at The Next 15000 Days, has hinted that she will soon share her story of why they chose to not adopt. I decided to join in on the conversation and share ours also. I think she will be sharing her's the first part of March, but I already have a different story I want to share then, so I have decided to share this post now.

Our story starts differently, because we did try to adopt. When Josh learned about his zero sperm count, literally the first words out of his mouth were, "Well, let's look into adoption."

From that point forward, we jumped in with both feet. The approval process was long, but I feel like we tackled it in a timely manner. We handed out tons of contact cards. Towards the end, I made books to hand out also. We attended several conferences and classes to better educate ourselves. We even paid to have our profile on extra websites.

We also encouraged family members to hand out our information. At that time, one set of my grandparents were living in Arizona. I sent my grandma several contact cards to hand out. It still touches my heart that she feels so badly that her efforts didn't result in a baby. I've told her its okay. Even if our cards didn't lead to us finding a baby, I like to think that they still somehow touched a young women's heart and led her to think about the possibility of adoption if she was faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

The only part of the adoption process that didn't fly smoothly was the wait. We were on the list for nearly two years before we had any contact. After being unchosen, we stayed on the list (although we didn't have the heart to promote ourselves as much) for another year. In 3 years, we had one birthmom contact. We were ready to get out of the adoption game.

So my post isn't about "Why don't you just adopt?" Its more about "Why don't you try again?"

Adoption is not cheap. When we tried to adopt the first time, we had to pay a non refundable deposit. If our journey had ended in adoption, it would have went towards our total costs.  But when we decided to close our profile, that was money we did not get back. We also had to pay a fee each year to keep our profile active.

When we did try to adopt, at that time, we went through the church that we were currently attending. They offered a subsidized program so the cost was a lot less. (I've since learned that program is no longer available. It breaks my heart to think of all the couples who wanted to be parents and now may not be able to because of the cost.) I don't know what the costs are today, but back then, to use a private agency, the starting price was around $15,000. And it just went up from there.

"But what about foster care? Its basically free." I have my own reasons for not doing foster care. The biggest reason is, I'm not willing to risk falling in love with a child, only to return them to their family. That is the #1 goal of foster care, to reunite families. As it should be. But I'm selfish, I want a baby I can keep. I could go on about foster care, but it can be a post on its own someday. But let me say, its not free, there is still costs involved, along with many other risk factors.

Even though adoption is costly, I no longer can say we can't afford it. Now, we are more established in our lives and our jobs. We do have some extra money (not a lot, but some). So I can't really say we can't afford it. After being married 14 years, I have become much better at organizing our finances. I now understand, that when money is needed, it can be found. Also, and this is not common knowledge, we have had a few extended family members offer to help pay for it. One in form of a loan, another in form of just helping with the finances. So to say we choose not to try again because of money would not be the full truth.

I've never had anyone say it outright to my face, but sometimes I feel like they are implying, "just because you were hurt once, doesn't mean you should quit." To which I reply, I am longer hurt. We went to the wedding when our almost birthmom was married. There are NO bitter feelings. I know that a broken heart can heal. Yes, I used to be scared of being hurt again. But not anymore. Because I have learned one thing...

Life goes on.

That is what it all sums up to for us. Life goes on and so must we. The first morning after being unchosen, I cursed the sun for rising. Life, as I knew it, was over. Each day was hard. Each breath was a struggle. But slowly, each day got easier. As time went on, we found that life wasn't just about becoming parents. We were so busy chasing that dream, that we were missing what was going on around us.

I must also admit to one more thought. While I will always be a strong supporter of adoption, it just isn't in my heart anymore. I briefly mentioned that family has offered to help with the cost of adoption. But when the last offer was made, it just wasn't in my heart anymore. At this point, if I were to try and become a mom again, I would want to try and conceive on my own. I would want my baby to have my husband's eyes and my brown hair. I've decided that if a baby were to join our family, I would want to feel it grow in my belly. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pregnancy Announcements

This post is hard to write. Mostly because I'm afraid to offend those on the other side. But that is not my intent. I just want to give a better understanding of what it's like on the infertile side. Some of these feelings and experiences I will share here have never been told to some family and friends. Please don't overact and get the wrong idea. I'm just trying to tell a story to help bridge the gap between infertility and fertile people.

Pregnancy Announcements.

Let's be honest. I have yet to meet an infertile person who's first reaction is anything but anger or sadness. That does not mean we aren't happy for you. It does not mean that we suddenly hate you. The truth of the matter is, pregnancy announcements are HARD.

We had been trying to have a baby for a few years when I had my first experience. We had gone to a family dinner. While sitting there, an ultrasound was dropped on the table and the announcement was "Here is baby." My heart literally stopped and I couldn't breathe. Suddenly, the room felt like it was closing in and crushing me. I did the only thing I knew how to do. I ran.

We had been married for 5 years, and have been trying for about 3 of those to have our own baby. Jealousy doesn't even begin to describe it. We had been living month to month hoping our dream would come true at any moment.

I was not even slightly prepared for that announcement. Maybe its like that for every infertile couple. The very 1st announcement is the hardest. I was having feelings and emotions I had never had before. And those were just piled on top of the emotional roller coaster I was already on.

Could I have handled it differently? I'm sure I could have. But they could have too. The thing is, its hard when everyone is over the moon excited, and all you can feel is your heart breaking. They can't understand why you aren't happy and you just want them to understand how it has crushed you.

If you have someone in your life that you think is struggling with infertility, here are my personal thoughts. I can't speak for all infertile couples, but I hope my thoughts are similar so that I can help.

1) Don't hide your pregnancy from us. We will find out no matter what. It hurts even more when we have to hear it from someone else. Please respect our friendship/family relationship enough to tell us yourselves.

2) Its okay if you want to have a big announcement. But please run it by us first. Call us or suggest a lunch date and tell us the news. For myself, I find it so much easier to handle when it's a quite affair, instead of a loud celebration. Its easier to keep my emotions in check if there is only one other person around, instead of the whole family. This way, when you do make the big announcement, it can be all about you. We can choose to be there, or choose to conveniently be somewhere else.

Most of the pregnancy announcements I've received have been in a private setting. When my sister was pregnant with her second, she came to tell me herself. It was just a quick, "hey, I need to tell you I'm pregnant" conversation. Her first baby was only a few months old, so its not like I was expecting her to be pregnant again. It was how she handled it that made it so much easier. One of my dearest friends always makes sure to tell me in person before they tell everyone else. This makes a world of difference to me. It shows that you care about our feelings too.

3) Leave it up to us if we want to discuss it out, but don't pressure us. I remember one pregnancy announcement, I just needed space to  think. A family member called numerous times and I just let it go to voice mail. But they wouldn't stop. When I didn't answer, they called Josh at work. He had to get a little forceful with them to just give me space. I needed to sort it out in my heart before I could be around them.

Pregnant friends, you will have plenty of people who will be happy for you. Give us time and hopefully we can be too. I think it will vary from person to person, based on what part of their infertility journey they are currently on. If we don't jump for joy like everyone else, please don't hold it against us. Most of the time, we will come around; but it needs to be on our terms. We don't hate you, we are just trying to work though our own struggle first.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Social media. Its like a blessing and a curse, all at the same time. I love how easy it is to keep up with people on Facebook. I've reconnected with old friends and made new friends.

But then, there is the other side of the coin.

Sometimes the pictures haunt those who suffer from infertility. A friend posts the CUTEST pregnancy announcement, and all you think is "Really? Why can't it be me?" It can hurt to see those kind of things.

That is why I get so mad on April Fool's Day when people posts that kind of a thing as a joke. They may find it funny, but to someone fighting infertility, it can be depressing. I know people who avoid Facebook on that day just for that reason.

Then, there are the people who share the bazillion baby pictures on Facebook. I realize, they are just on cloud nine over their little baby and they feel like every little thing they do is the cutest thing ever.

But as an infertile person, all you see is what you may never have.  When your news feed explodes with pregnancy and baby stuff, it can feel like the end of the world.

Here is where I probably differ from a lot of infertile people. It doesn't really bother me. I figure a person should be free to put whatever they want on their Facebook page. If I'm not in the right frame of mind, no one is stopping me from scrolling right past the stuff I don't want to see. If I see something that interest me, I will stop and look. If not, I scroll on by without a second thought.

A few months ago, I decided if people can post so many pictures about their kids, then I can do the same with my pets. They can look at it, or they can scroll right past it. I don't care. I put stuff on there because its important to me.

But despite my mostly positive attitude towards Facebook, I must admit there is one thing I despise.

I hate learning about things on there that I feel could have been told to me personally, either through a visit or a phone call. Or even a text. Because if I see it on Facebook first, it hurts my feelings. At least when it involves family or the closest of friends.

When one of my nephews was born, I learned about it on Facebook. Granted, I knew she was in labor. But it was on Facebook where I first learned he was here. It was almost an hour later before anyone called to tell me. I was crushed. I couldn't figure out why I was so unimportant I couldn't even get a phone call before the news was posted to the rest of the world.

I also had to learn that one of my nephews was a boy over Facebook. That one hurt also. The spiteful person inside of me wanted to bring pink stuff to the baby shower to try and prove a point. I didn't, but I was tempted.

I'm not saying I expect everyone who is pregnant to call me first. My point is, when its family (or a close friend), I think it could be handled a little better.

Pregnant family/friends, I can see how it can be scary. You're afraid to hurt their feelings because you are posting about something that they may never experience. But trust me, the knife cuts much deeper when we learn about it on Facebook, instead of in person. Even a text will do if you are too scared to tell them in person.

Remember, we want to be happy for you. We just have to mourn for a minute. But it hurts even more if you can't tell us personally. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Being childless, going to church was hard. I reached the point where I dreaded having to go. To me, it was no longer a place a worship, but a parade of families. I felt like I was in a place where I didn't fit in. So where did I end up? Playing piano in the primary room. It was like a dagger in my heart.

It reached a point, where I only went because I felt pressured to. We lived in the same congregation as family, so if we weren't there, they would question us why. Most weeks, it was easier to go and bear through it instead of just stay home, even though that is where we wanted to be.

I dreaded each Sunday. For me, there were two straws that broke the camel's back.

The first was the Sunday after the baby was born that we had hoped to adopt. The baby had been born the day before. I kept thinking, "I shouldn't be here right now. I should be at the hospital." But instead, I was sitting behind the piano. I cried silent tears through all of church. Not one person approached me to ask what was wrong or offer comfort. Not.One.Person. A few weeks later, I told them I couldn't handle that job anymore and I was relieved of my duty. I will always feel that as a piano player, I was just an extension of the piano; just a piece of furniture.

One of the last times we went to church, during our struggle, the lesson focused around life after death. In that congregation, their faith focuses on families being together, forever. On their terms. They are a wonderful group of people and my intent is not to attack their beliefs. But as I sat there, I realized, the baby we had hoped for would not be a part of our eternal family. That chance was gone forever. I had tried my entire life to live by their standards. Suddenly, I found myself in a loop hole. My child was considered dead, but at the same time was now a part of a different eternal family.

Shortly after that, I told my husband I didn't want to go to church anymore. I couldn't stand the pressure there. I wasn't happy there.

For years, I did all I could to avoid God. I felt like he had abandoned me. For a while, that seemed to work for me. I loved not feeling the pressure each Sunday to be in a place I didn't want to be. We used it as a day to spend extra time together.

But over time, I realized I missed having that spiritual connection. I mentioned this to a friend, and she suggested checking out other denominations and finding one where I was comfortable.  Last fall, I did just that.

The last few months have been amazing. I have learned that God never stopped loving me. I have developed a relationship with Him that I never had before. In all those years, my faith was based solely on the hope He would bless me with what I wanted, a baby. When that didn't happen, I felt betrayed.

I have learned that there is more to God than the answer I am looking for. He is loving and kind and He wants me to keep Him in my heart, no matter what. Life didn't turn out how I wanted it to. But I have the feeling, it is going just as He planned.

Making peace with God has brought so much peace to my heart and soul. For about a year now, I have felt at peace with our childlessness... for the most part. But there was always still a hole in my heart. A broken piece that only He could mend.

I thought I was healed. But since opening my heart back up to Christ, I have found that I was still a little broken. He has healed me in a way I couldn't. Its because of this extra peace that I am able to share my story so openly. With Him, I am able to handle my infertility even better. I feel stronger and more confident about my situation. I have tried for years to seek peace over certain things. I had finally given up. But because of Him, I am able to mend relationships that I thought were broken forever.

I'm not one to preach; I don't like when others do it to me. But my point is, if you have tried to cut Christ out of your life, please know He is still there, waiting for you. If you want to have Him in your life, open your heart back up to Him. If it means finding a different denomination, open your heart and He will lead you. Don't go to church because you feel guilted into it. You'll just sit there miserable. Go where you are comfortable. Don't go to be seen. Go because you want to be there to be closer to Christ. I have learned that through Him, you can find the peace you need to move on with life.

That is my wish for all of you.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Zero Sperm Count

In my previous post, I mentioned our zero sperm count as part of our infertility. It feels like a story only half told, so I thought I would share the rest.

It was actually a friend that convinced me to have testing done for both of us. I knew I had PCOS, so I always assumed I was the one that couldn't get pregnant. It was my body that was broken. But she kept after me. Finally, she convinced me that we could be wasting time and money without having all baby producing factors checked out.

Convincing Josh took a little bit more work.

This friend had also recommended we go to a different hospital instead of the local one. I don't know if things have changed, but at that time, the local hospital only checked the numbers. By going to a bigger hospital, they could tell us how many were good swimmers, how many didn't swim at all, and how fast they swam. They would even measure the tails.

One night I told Josh, how would you like to go to the new Cabela's store? When he said yes, I told him, since we are in the city, let's have the sperm testing done. He wasn't as excited after that.

Having your sperm checked is not the most fun thing. Its awkward and uncomfortable.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it took a lot of effort to get the results. That night, when I showed the paper to Josh, his first comment was, "why is the page blank?" I pointed out the line at the bottom that said sperm count: 0.

He actually took it better than I did. Or maybe that is just part of being a man and not showing weakness. I'm sure it ate him up inside for quite a while.

We didn't tell many people we were having the testing done, but we did choose to tell family. One comment made was, "I hope it isn't him, that kind of thing kills a man because it makes them less of a real man."

Infertility is not about the man or the woman. Its about the couple. Or at least that is my belief. They are trying to have a baby. They suffer through it together. They hold one another while the other cries. The encourage one another through the testing. The are there for one another for each failed pregnancy test. Infertility is about a couple.

We have never placed blame on one another. I know this isn't true of all infertile couples, but I wish they could see it that way. I've said it a thousand times, I didn't marry Josh for his sperm and his baby making abilities. I married him because I loved him and I want to spend the rest of my life with him. Having his children would have been icing on the cake. I have never loved him any less than I did before we got those results.

A few months after the test, another family member asked about it. I didn't want anyone to see my husband as less than a man, so we decided to not tell anyone. On the night this family member asked, we were having a bad day. One of those dark depressing, should have just stayed in bed, days.

But, because we were trying so hard to act like nothing was wrong, we had gone to family dinner. And it just went downhill from there. So when they asked about the test, we lost it. We acted out in anger. We had already decided to pursue adoption and we blurted out, "well, I hope you'll love our kids as much as you do your real grandkids, because they won't have our DNA." (Do not read that as we didn't like the thought of adoption. We were excited about it. We were just in a bad infertility moment right then.)

Then to make a bad night worse, it was mentioned that they weren't surprised. "He had been on that steroid drug for several months when he was sick. It probably killed the sperm."

Wait, what? We had been married for 6 years at this point and that had never come up.

When Josh was 18, he had an auto immune disease, henoch-schonlein purpura, which attacked his kidneys. Part of the treatment was a heavy, continual dose of the steroid, prednisone. Of course, at that time, all he was worried about was getting better. If the doctor mentioned it would hurt his sperm, Josh doesn't remember.

But when we got engaged, nothing was mentioned. When we got married, nothing was mentioned. For 6 years the issue never came up. While we hadn't been super open about our struggles, we had expressed them enough that the issue could have been mentioned.

After that, our anger just intensified. Looking back, I would say it was part of the last straw that drove a wedge between us and family. It was something that haunted us for a long time before we could put it to rest.

Could we have been calm about it? For sure. Could it have been brought up differently? Of course. But you can't change the past. If you keep looking back, you will miss all that is in front of you. If you keep hanging on to anger, you will damage valuable relationships.

Fertile friends, this is where I'm trying to help you with understanding. I'm not suggesting you scare your children by suggesting every little thing that could affect their fertility in their later life. But please guide them at least. Knowing that fact before we were married would not have changed my mind. I love Josh. And if it had changed my mind, then he wouldn't have deserved me. But it might have made our journey a little smoother. A lot of hurt and anger led up to that moment; hearing those words was like throwing gasoline on the fire. I wish we had known sooner.

Infertile friends, if you haven't had your husband tested, I strongly suggest it. My thyroid is out of whack. My hormones are never stable and my period infrequent. But even if that is how it is for you, you still only have one half of the picture. As a woman, trying to conceive, with medical intervention is very intrusive. You have no privacy. Don't let your husband say its too embarrassing for him. Infertility is a couple's issues, so tackle it together.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Its Hard to Be Strong

As I watch a few friends go through some hard stuff, I want to remind people to be kind. Behind every strong face, there is a broken heart. Behind every smile, there are invisible tear drops.

When you are going through infertility, you try so hard to be strong and pretend that nothing is wrong. You do your best to put on a face that says, "I'm okay." You get really good at making that face. For me, I just didn't want to talk about it. It was easier to pretend that nothing was wrong, than to help others understand what we were going through.

I'm here to tell you, its hard to be strong.

When we had the testing done to check our sperm count (I say ours, because infertility is about a couple, not just the individual), we decided to go through a bigger hospital. They did a much more intensive check than our local hospital. The problem was, they wouldn't release the results to us directly; we had to get them through our doctor. For days, I would call the doctor, only to say he didn't have them. So I would call the hospital where they would say they had already faxed them, but they would again. It finally took me standing in the doctor's office, on my cell phone, watching the fax machine before I could get those results. I was on my lunch break that day.

I told myself to not look until I got home that night, but I was ready for an answer and couldn't wait any longer. The entire document was blank, except the very bottom line. On that line was one thing: Overall Sperm Count: 0.

I went back to work and found an empty office. I shut the door and bawled my eyes out. It took several minutes to get the sobbing under control. When I felt composed, I put my smile back in place and walked out. I went back to work like nothing had happened. But all I could think inside was "Zero. Its all over now."

Sadly, this is not the only time I have hidden at work to have a long, hard cry. I did the same thing after we were unchosen. It was a normal working day and then the email came. I found an empty office, closed the door and called my husband. I was so hysterical I could hardly speak. I had carpooled that day with a coworker and Josh wasn't able to come get me. So I wiped up my tears, put my smile back and and went back to work. My coworker's had NO clue what I was going through that day.

I can't even count the numerous cry sessions I've had in the restroom at work. Something would trigger an episode and I would rush to get to where no one could see me loose it. As soon as I could gather my composure back together, I would go back to work. 

You never know what silent battles a person is fighting. Those battles follow us everywhere. School, work, church. They haunt us constantly. "What if I'm pregnant right now?" "What if I don't get pregnant this month?" "What do we do now?" "Why me?" "Will this pain ever stop?" "Is life even worth living?"

I often think of a line from one of my favorite hymns: "In the quite heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can't see." (Hymn, Lord I Would Follow Thee)

I'm not asking that you start trying to get into a person's private life. I'm just asking that you treat everyone with kindness. Don't be quick to judge someone. Don't be harsh toward someone. Treat everyone you meet with love and kindness. You may never know what demons haunt them inside.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

You're Not Alone

As I lay in bed, I keep thinking, "Money, Savannah. Really, that is the first thought you decide to share with the world about your thoughts on infertility. Money? Could you sound any more selfish?"

And I just can't sleep with myself. My purpose is to open up the world of infertility. The harsh pain of it. I thought about sharing another post I have started, but it doesn't feel ready yet. But I can't sleep knowing that money was going to be my topic this week.

Then I started thinking about a few things from this week. Earlier this week, a gal at the college told me she thought of me often, how I never became a mother. Its a pain that she and I share. She too lives a life of just two, as wife and husband. I don't know all of her story, but enough to say that they tried. With all they had they tried.

But you reach the point where you can't try any longer. Maybe your faith finally breaks. Maybe the money runs out. Maybe age is an issue. Maybe one partner is done watching the other suffer and they say no more. Or maybe it ends in divorce. Yes, infertility is that HARD on a marriage.

I remember being a part of an online support group once. A young woman came on and said she was thinking of leaving her husband because he couldn't give her the baby she desired. Coming from a similar situation, I couldn't bear that thought. I didn't marry Josh for his sperm. I didn't marry him so I could have his blonde babies. I married him because I loved him. Not his baby making potential. I loved HIM.

I degress. Today, I had another similar conversation. One that drove into me why I want to do this. Why I want to expose myself to the world in a raw manner like this.

When you are infertile you feel all alone. You feel like no one understands your pain. When we first learned we couldn't have a baby, I felt like no one would ever understand how much it killed me.

I had no idea that there were millions out there in a similar situation. Not only childless, but also, lost in despair. They too felt like they were the only ones.

I could go on and on with stories I have heard as I've journeyed through the land of infertility, but I will save those for another time. But I will keep this post short and sweet.

I want to be a voice for those who think they suffer alone. Please know you are not.

The Money Debate

I think one of the biggest misguided concepts that I struggle with is how we have all the money in the world. As a childless couple, we just walk around, throwing money at whatever we want.

I have no doubt raising kids is expensive. When I buy items to make a diaper cake, I am shocked at how much diapers costs. And formula, I can't image that is cheap. Then there is t-ball fees, doctor visits, birthday's, school registration, just to name a few. I'm sure it all adds up very quickly.

But just because we don't have those kind of expenses, doesn't mean we have money multiplying in our pockets. We have a mortgage and car payments also. We both work, not because it would be boring at home all alone, but because we have obligations also.

Until last week, we were still using the same dresser my husband grew up with. I've wanted a new dresser since the day we married. But the money always needed to go somewhere else. We can't just spend money on every whim.

I'm not denying we have a little extra to spend, but that is all it is, a little. When it comes down to it, we pay a lot of the same bills that families with children pay.

But on the other hand, I can't deny how it is a blessing to us. Because of the little bit of extra money we have, I am able to go back to school, hopefully most of it debt free.

I also want to add, then there are infertile couples that do not have the financial freedom like we do. A lot of couples are deeply invested and/or in debt because of treatments. We never pursued medical treatment very far, but I know it cost $1000's. For some, the treatments work. For others, they don't. But either way, the money has to be paid.

There are also infertile couples, that because of other finance issues, they can't even pursue infertility treatment or adoption. Money is a HUGE factor for couples trying to have a baby, something that comes so naturally to others. And yet, a lot of the time, even money is not enough.

My point is, just because a couple is childless, doesn't mean they have some large hoard of cash they are sitting on. Money may not buy everything, but it does make the world go round. Childless or not, we all have a lot of the same bills to pay and other financial responsibilities.