Being able to make a choice about when you can have a child is something many women take for granted. I remember discussing names of potential future children with my husband when we were still dating, making a plan that as soon as we were married we would get pregnant and start having kids right away. After all, he has a child from a previous relationship who lives with us half of the time, so there was no reason to wait. My stepson and his future siblings would already be several years apart; I didn’t want an even larger gap by waiting to have more kids. Besides, I have always wanted four kids, so best to get started early.
What’s the saying? “The best way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans?” God must have been having a ball listening to me make plans, because three months after saying “I do,” my doctor gave me a crippling diagnosis of premature ovarian failure. Long story short, we ended up adopting and now are parents to a perfect one-year-old baby boy.
My son’s birth mother, Katy, was 19 when she found out she was pregnant. She was in college, still in a relationship with my son’s birth father, and in complete denial about being pregnant. She tells me she convinced herself the home pregnancy test was faulty because the second pink line was very faint. She said, “I blamed the morning sickness, which was more like all-day, every-day sickness and missed periods on stress and me being away from home at college for the first time. It wasn’t until the end of November/early December when I would’ve been about 5ish months that I started noticing big changes in my body and a little bump starting to show. This is about the time that it hit me that I probably really was pregnant. My initial feelings were fear and anxiety, accompanied by distress and sadness. I had no idea what I would do, and honestly I had very minimal support. I felt very alone. I knew that I had to do something, though, because at some point, I was going to give birth to a baby.”
While all of my plans at this time included giving birth to children, none of her plans at this time included giving birth to children. So now what? Neither one of us was in a situation we’d planned to be in and neither one of us felt like we had a choice about whether or not to have kids. It is easy for me to empathize with this incredibly helpless feeling.
Infertility is no joke. It makes you feel like less of a woman and kind of like a failure. I remember thinking how much I was letting everyone in my life down: my parents, my husband, my friends, my stepson. I couldn’t have kids and, in my mind, that meant my life was over. I had failed as a woman, wife, and daughter.
Katy felt the same way. As the only daughter, honors student, and cross-country star, she was expected to be perfect. Becoming pregnant at 19 isn’t perfect. She felt like she had let everyone in her life down, and her life was over. She had also failed as a woman, girlfriend, and daughter.
But we both were certainly not failures, no matter how much we might have felt that we were. We both knew we had to take control over our situations and do whatever we could to make the best out of circumstances that then seemed hopeless. My husband and I began the adoption process while Katy weighed all of her options and decided adoption was the best choice for her child’s future. She said, “I loved Vincent back then and still do to this day, and that is why I chose adoption. It was a choice made out of pure love and putting Vincent first even though I hadn’t even met him yet. I loved him so much that I knew I had to choose a family for him that would love him too and give him everything I couldn’t as a 19-year-old college student. And of course nothing about this was easy and sure, I could’ve made it by somehow had I not chosen adoption, but in my mind, that was not going to cut it. I wanted the very BEST for Vincent and NOTHING short of it, because he deserved it. He deserved everything I felt a baby should have.”
Although Katy and I did not go through a similar experience when it comes to having children, we felt similar feelings during the process. Because of my infertility, I know what it’s like to feel out of control. I know what it’s like to love a child you haven’t met. I know what it’s like to feel helpless about making a decision. And I know what it’s like to make a choice out of pure love. On that level, Katy and I are able to empathize with each other, and that emotion is the foundation for our relationship going forward.
Love brought Katy and I together, and love is what will keep our relationship strong. Love for Vincent, love for each other, and love for adoption.