I always knew I was going to be a mother. Note that I said “was going” and not “wanted” or “hoped”. I just knew that one day in my future I would be Mom. At 4 years old my mother let me watch “My Mom’s Having a Baby” and for days I sobbed – gut wrenching hysterical sobs where I would finally choke out the words “I don’t want to have a baby” and my mom would try to reassure me by saying “it’s okay you don’t have to” to which I equally sobbed and wailed “but I want to have babies”. My mom was beside herself trying to figure out how to stop the sobs and the night terrors. Finally she said to me ” you can adopt!” and explained what that meant. I can still actually remember my sobs subsiding and the fear evaporating. That was it – I would adopt.
I wasn’t the type of girl who dreamed about husbands and weddings and how many children and what their names would be. I was a little more practical and a here and now kind of kid. When I was 18 I got tired of irregular periods and went to my doctor. We discussed options and I went on birth control pill. Then she told me that it was quite possible that when it came time to conceiving a child I might “need some help” from the doctor. I remember smiling to myself and thinking “it’s okay I can adopt”.
What I hadn’t counted on was a mere year later meeting an amazing man that I, before long, dreamed of having children with. I dreamed of what our babies would look like – pudgy little wide eyed slobbery cherubs. Somewhere along the road to marriage I told Adam about what the doctor had said about “needing help” and he wasn’t fazed. Shortly after our wedding in 1995 I went off the pill and hoped each month that I would be pregnant. What made it worse was that my cycles were so irregular it was impossible to tell if I was even ovulating. After a year of trying we knew we needed help. Problem was we were now living in a different town and I had no family doctor. My doctor in Brampton had offered to refer us to London (2 hours from our house) but we wanted to start locally. Finally in 1997 I found us a family physician in our town who promptly referred us to an OBGYN.
The OBGYN was a very blunt, to the point kind of doctor. I found this reassuring and we promptly came up with a plan to try Clomid for a few cycles to see if it would stimulate something. Well that was unsuccessful so much of 1998 was wasted. I went through all kinds of tests, some more humiliating than the rest – and finally the doctor said he was stumped, it was “unexplained infertility” and he recommended moving onto Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). We did 2 cycles and we spread them out as I found them very stressful. They were unsuccessful. On the 3rd attempt I hyper-stimulated and ended up with dozens of eggs in each ovary. We were sent to London to the Fertility Clinic to do IVF (Invitro-Fertilization) and though they harvested lots of follicles we ended up with nothing in the end. Except that I hyperstimulated so bad that I ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks. The drugs had caused my stomach to become porous and all the fluid was seeping into the cavities around my lungs, heart etc. It was hard to breathe, I was very uncomfortable (I gained 40lbs of water weight in 3 days) and I was mourning the baby that it seemed would never be. In February 2000, we underwent our 4th and final IUI attempt which obviously did not work. I could do it no longer. Our marriage was at a breaking point from the stress of it all.
All through the infertility process I was ok being around other people’s kids. I relished in being an Aunt and Godmother. But after the failed IVF something changed. I no longer had hope that we would be able to conceive our own baby.As I wrote on February 24, 2000, Mother hood was going to be my definition. It was who I was going to be. I realize now I’m scared because this will not be my definition and I am terrified of having to redefine myself. Good friends around us suffered miscarriages and still births. It felt like a group none of us wanted to be a part of. We all did our best to support each other. And I began to mourn, to allow myself to feel that grief of not being able to conceive a baby with the man I so loved. To me it was important that I come to terms with being infertile before we even thought of adoption. I didn’t want to take grief and longing into a space that was supposed to be joyous and free from preconceived notions. So I went to counselling and I worked through it and I talked to Adam and I spent hours playing the mind numbing game Bust a Move.
Finally in late 2000 we were ready to start down the adoption trail . . .