My life changed when I heard that I wouldn’t be able to have children. We became a statistic, the recipients of an award I didn’t want. We were one in eight couples that experiences infertility. The process of grieving took over me for a time. I was angry. I was hurting. However, I responded with a choice. I wanted to fight for a chance at becoming a mom, an opportunity that so many around me received without much action.
Living infertility and the limbo it invites into your life feels like a thick fog. This process shaped me in a way that is difficult to articulate. With an infertility position you often receive a percentage from doctors that represents the likelihood you and your partner have of being able to conceive naturally, ours was 0%.
Jake and I talked about adoption, foster care, and IVF (short for Invitro fertilization). We knew we had the choice of not becoming parents if we did nothing but this wasn’t appealing to either of us, not even for a moment. Modern medicine was our only option to have biological children. This was our choice. We acted.
We moved forward with an invasive surgery that could boost our percentage of natural conception. It would take a year to know if the procedure was successful. After 9 months, we tested and it appeared the surgery wouldn’t give us the results we needed but we still had a few months to hope. I didn’t bite. I gave up hope and went to work. I made the choice to start a round of IVF.
I committed to egg retrieval, this took months of planning and was excruciating in a way I didn’t expect. The hormones I ingested alone flipped my world upside down. My doctor, who performed with excellence during every step of this process, suggested the pain would be a 3 out of 10. He doesn’t have a uterus, and he was way off. I produced 57 healthy eggs during the egg retrieval. I was exhausted, depleted, but filled with hope.
We took two months off. This was medically suggested as I needed to heal and let all the hormones flush out of me for us to have the best shot at a successful IVF procedure which was the frozen embryo transfer.
During this time of rest was when I took a pregnancy test. After nine days of fighting off hopeful thoughts that we may be pregnant, I found the courage to take a test. The sting of so many negative pregnancy tests still felt so fresh. Each one-line reading on the negative test knocked the breath out of me. I didn’t tell Jake I was taking the test. I knew how much we would feed each other’s excitement at what could be if I spoke it aloud. I chose to test when Jake was out of the house.
Two little pink lines appeared. My eyes quickly filled with tears and then I spoke a prayer asking God to be clear if this was false because my heart had already broken so much.
When Jake arrived home I couldn’t speak. I had rehearsed but couldn’t get it out. Excitedly, I showed him the positive pregnancy test. We giggled. We cried. We hugged. We held so much joy between us that I thought we might float off the kitchen floor.
The first surgery had been successful and we had created life. We were dealt cards that weren’t favorable but due to the choices we made and the gift of modern medicine we built the life we wanted.
I attribute much of this miracle to God and divine timing. Yet, without modern medicine, we would not be parents to the two children we have. Without this steady path of choices, we wouldn’t have two children that share our DNA.
Our second child, Luke, was one of 57 eggs. All 57 eggs were fertilized with sperm in a lab but only 5 graduated to an embryo. The rest didn’t make it. These embryos spent two years in a freezer while I birthed our first child, Jolene.
We chose to proceed with IVF in 2020. I went the extra mile and made the choice of testing the genetics of the embryos to know their health, gender, and overall likelihood of survival. Out of the five embryos we had stored in the lab we chose the healthiest; an embryo with a health rating of AA+ that we knew was a male. I was able to carry this embryo and grow with it as it became a healthy baby boy by November of 2022.
I was intentional in my choice to become a mother. I lived an unnatural process to become a mother. My choices gave me the life I have. I own my story.
There were times when I wrestled with the morality of IVF. I felt unsettled about “playing God” in creating a baby in a lab or choosing gender. These are trials only an IVF warrior knows intimately enough to have a weighted opinion on. These are topics, that years prior to my experience, I would have had an ignorant reaction to moving to slap a right or wrong sticker on.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to know where you stand or claim is the ‘right’ choice until it is in your hands to make concerning your own life. The choices we make continue with ripples of impact into the rest of our lived days here on earth. May our choices be ones we trust ourselves to make. May our choices be something we can live with. May our choices be ours to make.
There are those who feel with IVF I went against nature in how I became a parent. Those opposed to my choices reserve the right to disagree. They do not have the right to make my choices for me. They do not have the right to take my choices away from me. I deserve all the options. I reserve the right to use modern medicine to my advantage. Modern medicine is a gift that allows an expansion of choice.
Motherhood has been the most special journey. It has taught me so much about life and the beauty it holds.
Woven intricately into this story are my choices.
May we all have the choice to build the life we want. May all women have the choice to become mothers, when they want if they want, and how they want.
I stand firmly as pro-choice on the topic of abortion. Not pro-abortion, but pro-choice. I trust the mother to know her needs in most situations.
This opinion has been artfully shaped by my lived experience. I have made delicate choices concerning embryos in careful moments and I couldn’t live with a clear conscience if anyone had made those choices for me. I also couldn’t allow anyone to make choices concerning those 4 remaining embryos in the freezer. I own them. They are not babies, they are embryos.
This topic will go on for a lifetime. I have shared my story to offer insight. I hope that in reading this we can all see that life is less black and white than we sometimes wish it could be. There is so much beauty in the grey we live in.