chronic illnessinfertility

Infertle vs Sterile

Once you cross the bridge into the world of infertility you can never go back. It is almost as if you are marked with the letters IF using a hot brand. Time may pass and the wound may begin to heal. The scar may even start to fade a little but it is always there.

There seems to be this idea out there that once you become a parent whether through medical intervention, adoption, or a miracle pregnancy that your IF memory becomes erased  and almost invalid. I have had people question why parts of my story still make me sad now that I have Abby. It is true that I may not think about it as much now or that the sting might not go so deep these days but the reality is the infertility is still a part of my life. It is a part of the journey that led me to Abby. It is a real and devastating loss that I am still grieving. It is a part of me. It has shaped me into the person I am today – both in good and bad ways.

As I laid in bed tonight with all my thoughts swirling about infertility, I laid my hand gently on my lower abdomen and had a realization. The scar upon which I rested my hand made me no longer infertile but sterile. And not two weeks ago but three years ago. I have shared the pain of signing the paperwork before my hysterectomy and have always known since then that i was sterile but never owned it. When people would ask about pregnancy (after all, it is a normal part of life for most women my age), I would make jokes like “only if the doctor accidentally left something behind” or “maybe I’m a starfish and regrow it.”

But tonight as I lay in the dark with my husband asleep next to me and Charlie snoring on the floor, I am owning the fact that I am sterile. No amount of perfect timing or medical invention would allow me to become pregnant and carry a child. As a 29 year old it is a hard pill to swallow especially in the light of my recent surgery. While I knew that a hysterectomy was not a cure for endo, I at least held onto hope that it would resolve most of my pain and I would not find myself in the OR due to endo again.

This last surgery has made me question whether or not a hysterectomy was a good call.

What if I had held out a little longer?

What if we had tried one more treatment?

Could I have gotten pregnant?

While we have pretty good solid hypothesis about the fate of my fertility with my case of Endometriosis, it is nothing but a guess. Educated, yes, but still a guess.

The reality is that I will honestly never know. The title of “sterile” comes with its questions as well as a sense of emptiness that even my immense and irreplaceable love for my daughter cannot fill. I still feel a part of me is missing and it is something that I find difficult to explain in words.

Note:  I would not trade my family for anything and would walk the same path 1000 times for Abby. This is just a loss in my story that is very real and one in which I am trying to grieve. I share this in order to be as real as possible about my experience with chronic illness and infertility.



Our Diverse Family

In case you haven’t noticed by the header or by pictures I’ve posted, Abby and I don’t look a thing alike.  She doesn’t favor Hubs either so when we are seen out as a family, its pretty obvious that we adopted.

We get the typical intrusive adoption questions like: “Where did you get her?” “How much did you pay for her?” and my favorite,  “Did you see that movie on Lifetime where the birthmom murdered the adoptive parents and stole her baby back?” I’ve also had people ask why we didn’t choose to adopt a child that looked more like us so it wouldn’t be so obvious that she was adopted (as if it was something to be ashamed of but that is for another post).

(I’m not sure what it is about adoption where it somewhere becomes ok to be intrusive (and sometimes flat out rude). Maybe that why I get such a kick out of this video.)

Long before we crossed the infertility hurdle – even before we were married – we knew that we wanted to adopt. So when we were told IVF was our only option and even then it would be unlikely that I could carry full-term, we started our adoption journey. Early on, we just felt called to be a diverse family. We weren’t sure whether that meant international adoption or domestic so we pursued all our options. We looked into Korea and Ethiopia but our health conditions kept us from applying and we were too young for many of the other countries (minimum age is 30). So when we chose the domestic adoption route, we still felt that pull so we were open to a child of any race.

We let our family know of our desires upfront and were prepared to be faced with questions. The book Cross Cultural Adoption: How to Answer Questions from Family, Friends, & Community was extremely helpful in helping us form answers to some of the questions we would be asked before hand (I kept me from poking someone in the eye a time or two). We also took a class through Adoption Learning Partners and attended several workshops through our agency that were also extremely helpful. We knew that it was important to be prepared not only for questions from others but questions from Abby as well as she got older so we not only consulted our agency and workshops, but others within our community. We didn’t want our child to lose his or her ethnicity by growing up with white parents so education was very important for us.

We knew going into our adoption that we would face a lifetime of questions. Some polite and others not so much. We knew that living in the south would probably raise the number of questions and eye-brow raises. But we also knew that this is where God was leading us and we knew that He would equip us and He has.

We have a wonderful church and daycare where Abby is one of several biracial children in her class so she never has to feel like she doesn’t fit because of the color of her skin. Through the magic of the interwebs and social media, I have a group of other adoptive moms of diverse families where I can find information on caring for ethnic hair and finding a sunscreen that won’t turn Abby into the purple monster. I am so incredibly thankful for the community that I have found through facebook, twitter, and other forums that help me become a better mom for Abby.

So can being a diverse family be trying at times? Absolutely. Would I trade it for the world? Not a chance!