We are excited that our friend, missohkay is sharing her story with us. You can follow her adventures on her blog at The Misadventures of missohkay. If you want a daily dose of fun, you can also follow her on twitter. Thank you for sharing your story of struggle, inspiration, and joy with us!
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Several years ago, a friend and I started a running joke about the state of our fertility. She was single; I was married but "career-oriented." Still in our 20s at the time, we'd both just read one of those scare-tactic articles about how you were basically doomed if you tried to conceive after 30. So we darkly joked about our eggs dying off; I was half confident that nothing bad would happen to me and half suspected that something might turn out to be amiss.
In 2009, we began trying to conceive, and 2010 began our Year of the Miscarriage. I was 31. My eggs were apparently as bad as I'd joked. Or my uterus was poisonous (that's a medical term, right?). I started the year having never been pregnant before, and I ended the year with three miscarriages, a battery of tests, and a fancy diagnosis of unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss.
In the beginning I didn't know anyone else my age who'd had a miscarriage. I didn't know that having more than one consecutive miscarriage was a thing that happened to people. I didn't know you could be pregnant and have already had a miscarriage without realizing it, until the doctor says, "I'm so sorry" at the ultrasound. I didn't know what it would feel like to be part of the 1% of women that fell on the wrong side of the statistics three times in a row.
It was a devastating and lonely year, until I found an online community of infertility and loss veterans who were standing ready to welcome, to uplift, to inform, and never to scoff at how you'd "only" had three losses or had "only" been trying to have a child for three years. I will forever be grateful for these true friends who changed my life.
After the third loss, we decided to move on to adoption. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to adopt internationally. My husband was on board; when dating, we casually decided that we would have our first child the old fashioned way and then adopt our second. Back then I even remember telling someone that if we had problems conceiving, we'd "just adopt." I cringe now at the naiveté, but, hey, props for being realistic about infertility I guess?
Pregnancy was never really my goal -- parenting was. And adoption, though difficult in other ways, was a welcome change and a challenge that I was excited to tackle. We began the process of adopting internationally from Africa. Fifteen months later -- and four fingerprint appointments, five social worker visits, two doctors appointments, three home inspections, 20 hours of adoption education, a CPR class, and a few hundred pieces of paper -- our daughter arrived!
We may have always imagined meeting our first child in a hospital rather than in an airport, but it was no less special. She is amazing. The light of our lives. I want to say all the usual things: how she was worth the wait, that if I hadn't been through what I'd been through, she never would have been in our lives, that she was meant to be ours, that no one could ever doubt we love her as much as any parent loves a child, biological or adopted. I firmly believe all those things, but hearing them from others didn't help me be any more patient when I was in the thick of waiting, and it probably doesn't help you much either.
Instead, I'll just encourage those still waiting to live with no regrets and keep an open mind. Try to conceive as long as you can or want to. Even though people telling you to "just adopt" is totally annoying, don't write off adoption for that reason. Know, too, that you don't have to fully mourn your infertility to adopt, as some say.
You certainly need to be ready to go “all in” -- to educate yourself and prepare to be an advocate for your child for the rest of your life -- but if I'd waited to adopt until I stopped feeling pangs when other people posted ultrasound photos on Facebook, I'd still be waiting instead of happily parenting.
Grieving infertility is a process, not a switch that is flipped. Adoption isn't a solution for your infertility, but it’s an opportunity to parent. It can seem daunting at first, but it is incredibly rewarding. I am so grateful to be the mother of this incredible girl!
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.