Our dance is over.

It was recently my husband’s birthday– I gave myself a present.

I have ended an eight year “dance” with infertility; I went back on the pill.

Why a “dance” and not a “battle”? A battle, by definition, would mean that I fought back. But I didn’t. I swayed and twirled. I considered and cried. I pondered every ethical dilemma and read every book and website. And then I took steps.

The dance begins:
My husband and I received our diagnosis only half a year after trying to start a family. Being the OCD girl that I am, I had been charting my basal temperature months before we even started trying. So I knew our timing was not off. We had medical testing done because we were about to move across the country and lose our insurance. Since we had excellent coverage, the doctor and I thought it would be good “just to make sure everything was okay”.

The news was presented as poorly as can be imagined. The doctor never called me, so eventually I left a message for her. She returned the call while I was working with two students severely impacted by Autism. Her call went something like this, “The results are very bad. You will never be able to have children. I don’t think anything can be done. I’m sorry I can’t talk more with you about this, but I’m leaving on vacation tomorrow.” I was moving 3000 miles away in 3 days.

Don’t tell my former employer, but I really didn’t work the rest of that day. I escorted the students back to their room. They didn’t even know I was upset. I called my husband to deliver the news. I bawled for about two hours. It was my last day of work.

I spent the rest of the day researching adoption from China. Why China? I had always considered adopting one of my children. My husband is Chinese-American. I had decided not to pursue domestic adoption for a large variety of reasons. These factors put together meant that if I was going to adopt a child, she would be born in China.

The dance is slow and awkward:
The lights are low in the Middle School Gymnasium. There are streamers and balloons. Madonna’s “Time After Time” is blaring from the DJ’s speakers. I slow-danced in this clumsy manner for several years. I did not fight it. I did not accept it. I mostly tried to ignore it. Occasionally, I searched the bleachers for my imagined baby. I was sad and depressed. But mostly I kept dancing. Shifting my weight from denial to longing in a tight circle, making no progress. Because we married young, none of my friends were getting pregnant; there was no peer pressure; none for several years yet.

The dance stayed lethargic because we were too young to adopt from China, too broke to look into IVF. There was nothing to do but keep dancing with my destined partner.

The dance gets jaunty, hectic, and I lose my footing:
My friends began getting pregnant at the same time that we moved into our first home and I got a salaried job. My thoughts centered on babies. I felt sorry for myself and my crummy dancing partner. Why did everyone else have decent partners? Why did people who didn’t even WANT to dance end up with great partners? I grieved for the dance that I would never experience–the fluent, beautiful dance that everyone else was enjoying. My dreams revolved around what I couldn’t have and “everyone else” could.

I avoided baby showers. I avoided pregnant women. I wept.

We were still too young to adopt from China, so I began to research other Asian countries with adoption programs: Vietnam and Korea. I knew that I wanted a child. I knew that I wanted her to share my husband’s cultural heritage. But I also knew I could not wait several years to start the process of becoming a mother.

Family members strongly encouraged us to look into medical interventions. They told us about specific procedures that could work for us. When we mentioned our interest in adoption, they told us, “Don’t you want your own child?”

So we made medical appointments. We met with the specialists. We attended the “pre-IVF” workshop. I had scopes put into places where they didn’t belong. We both gave a myriad of samples of bodily fluids.

People told us we’d regret it if we didn’t try .

But I kept tripping over my dance partner. Would I actually regret it if I didn’t try? When does life begin? Would I stick with my ethics and use all of the fertilized eggs regardless of the number of children? Was I willing to contribute to this planet’s exponential population growth? What about Jesus’ commands to help the orphans? What about all the children already suffering on earth? How could I answer all of these questions? Why was I stuck with this dance partner?

The dance takes a turn, and I twirl away:
We requested a non-standard chromosomal test. On day 1 for IVF medications, we received the discouraging test results. The doctor tried to convince us that these results were inconclusive and not a reason to stop the process. We disagreed. We knew we were done before we had even begun. This was our sign from God. The dance was changing. We could try the medical route later.

That very afternoon I called the South Korean adoption agency to request an application.

We never looked back. I never regretted that decision to stop IVF before it began. I never returned to that clinic (or any other clinic for that matter).

The dance is over:
Although I’ve had no regrets, I still mourn for the experience that I can never have. I feel jealousy towards the couples who can do what we could not. And I get angry.

Angry that every single month I shed a silent tear on the first day of my period, even though I know to expect it. Angry that I have gone through excruciating cramps for the last 20 years without a break for even one month. Angry that when I tried to go on the pill a few years ago, the cost of the medication was prohibitive. (Why would insurance cover the birth of a child but not my medication?) Angry that people continue to say “you never know… it could still happen.”

This fall my insurance company changed and I could afford these medications again.

So I am gifting myself with the end. The end of my monthly wondering, “maybe this month!” The end of awkward comments, “it just takes once!”. The end (or at least alleviation) of great pain.

Good-bye dance partner. The years have been memorable, although not enjoyable. Our dance is over.

And if this was a battle?

Then clearly I won.

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46 Comments

  1. Dang. I don’t understand why it has to be so difficult for some. I think it would kill me to wonder every single month if this might the month. I hope the pills alleviate your pain.

    My daughter was told that she would not be able to have children without fertility meds, but she had my grandson and because she knows that age plays against her she is pregnant with the second and last child. She got lucky. But she could have been like you and wanting to end the dance.

  2. This is beautiful! And I love your kids–they are so beautiful too. I really appreciate knowing you!

  3. Beautiful smiles! I’m sorry you endured that much angst, I can’t imagine. As you can tell, we danced like no one was watching… and if I had the money I would adopt in a heartbeat.

  4. I totally feel ya. We battled infertility for SIX LONG YEARS before our jobs (insurance) covered IVF and our miracle happened after many other attempts and procedures and tests and IUI’s and all that other crap.

    I know how you feel, and it is a long journey. One that ended well.

  5. What a beautiful and honest post!

    I am so sorry for the pain that you have endured all of these years….the wonder and the holding on to hope gets old and it can really take its toll….I now that the dance is over you can find some peace!

    Sending hugs your way,

    Lisa

  6. I really butchered that last sentence….

    This is what I was trying to say:

    I know that the dance is over and I hope that you can find some peace!

  7. beautifully written. I can not imagine. My mother struggled with infertifity/difficult pregnancies, etc. I was blessed(?) with none of that. Perhaps God knew I didn’t have the strength to go through that and maintain my faith. . .(sad but true?) Anyway, so glad God gave you “your” children, because they truly are yours. As someone who has experienced childbirth but is now looking at adoption, I can tell you that pregnancy/childbirth is a miraculous thing, but in the end, that child doesn’t care that you’re the one that carried him/her. Does any of this make sense?

  8. WOW -really great post – very raw and honest – I can sort of get this . . . I had four miscarriages with my ex. And then was able to have 2 children with my (now) husband, then 3 more miscarriages. We were in the process of adopting a baby from China (while we were living there) and I got pregnant and stayed pregnant with our third. I want one more baby and no luck yet . . . if not soon, I’m going back on the pill and saying good bye to periods forever!

  9. What a beautiful post and what a perfect way to end it….those sweet smiles! Kuddos to you for “keepin’ it real”!

  10. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your journey CC. What gorgeous smiles your children have!

  11. The smiles at the end…your ovation.
    Thanks for sharing your dance.

  12. WOW – what a great post that documents a very sad and difficult time in your life! I love those final lines – you are a brave mother and a wonderful writer!!!

    Take care – Kellan

  13. That was so powerful that I was just about bawling! Thank you for sharing your struggle.

    Can I just say your children are gorgeous!

  14. CC, this is such a gut-wrenching and beautiful post. Whether it feels like it or not, you’ve done a wonderfully graceful job of dancing, of turning sorrow into triumph. And your little ones’ smiles are adorable! And worth it.

  15. What a beautifully written post. It is hard to understand why God takes us through these valleys to get us exactly where he wants us. You are blessed with two beautiful children:), and I am so glad your dance is over. The battle with infertility can be a heart wrenching battle, spoken from one who is all too familiar with it. Thank you for sharing!

  16. whew! well, now I have mascara on my nose! thanks!

    yay for your two kids! I’m adopted too so I LOVE adoption stories! and, they ARE your own ๐Ÿ™‚ but you know that!

  17. This was so beautifully written, and it brought me to tears! Yes, I have often wondered how some people can so easily conceive and others struggle… I am not ready for children but will one day struggle because of my endmetriosis. Thank you for sharing your painful story, and thank you for leaving good suggestions for my house decorating adventure! I am totally a blue/green bathroom girl myself..

  18. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing the story of your dance. You have faced a very challenging journey, and I can’t imagine how painful it has been at times. But you’re right – you have won with the beautiful children you have through the gift of adoption. May God bless you and your family!

  19. That was beautiful to read, and very sad too. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it’s been. But I am thankful when I read stories like this because it makes me count my blessings. I was one of those who “…had a great dance partner but didn’t even want to dance” the last two times.

    Your children look beautiful, even with just a partial face shot (I am assuming that photo is your chilren.)

  20. CC, I have never been so truly touched by a post as this one. First, I appreciate your honesty. I know those pains so well. I do.

    Here’s a little TMI, but what the heck: In my first marriage, while trying to get pregnant my MOM got pregnant. Yes. Uh-huh. I couldn’t believe the pain of the salt in THAT wound. Then, with my current husband, when pregnancy did not come easily (and my ex had already conceived in a blink), I knew *I* had the issue. What guilt a person goes through with that burden.

    And then, of course, I became so blessed. So truly blessed by our twins. I GET THAT. I KNOW THAT.

    Blessed.

    And yet…

    An yet…

    I long to adopt. I feel it. It is in me.

    Tonight, while re-reading your post, my husband walked in. While it wasn’t the first time he’s heard me say it, I finally put him on the spot. “Would you ever consider adopting from China?” And his response, pointedly, “I’m not considering adopting at all.”

    Period.

    While I want to scream and curse, the same way I once did each time I got my period… I just don’t know what to do with all of these feelings.

    So here we are. Two families with two children each. Miracles and journeys.

    But, does the journey have to end?

  21. Beautifully written – I’m so glad I was able to read this. Just amazing, so real and touching and wonderful. I’m so glad the dance is over, that you are comfortable with it all, and completely happy.

  22. This was so well written. I can definitely see wanting to end the dance.

  23. I am so glad you decided to post this. And I am so proud of you!

    It was set in the stars. Those children of yours were bound to you before they were born. They are yours since the beginning of time.

    Still I know there is that feeling of missing out. I hope that hole is eventually filled.

    And I hope your pain (all of it) is ended with the bc pills. ๐Ÿ™‚

    So PROUD of you!

  24. I am so moved by your story today. I am proud of you and admire your strength, as well as your partners.

    You have some amazing kids and you are just as amazing to them.

    Their smiles are beautiful!

  25. Such a heart-felt post. You are so courageous in sharing your journey and for taking the measures you have. I can certainly relate to the monthly anticipation. Even if the chances are slim, the first day of my period is always so disappointing. I’m so glad you’re ending this battle. You have clearly won. I love those smiles ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. I’m so sorry that sometimes life is so tough. But clearly you won. You have beautiful children, you have a winning attitude, you have a loving husband. Life doesn’t get much sweeter.

  27. CC ~ This is one of the most moving posts I’ve ever read. As we often hear, adoption does not solve infertility. But it does bring love and laughter into your home. (I’m sending you an e-mail as well.)

  28. This is a beautiful post! And your kids are beautiful too!

    From one IVF mom to another – I understand whole-heartedly.

    :o) Denise

  29. AMEN! What a wonderful post. You totally won, girl. You smacked it out of the park. And the crowd goes wild!!!!!

    PS I am a school-SLP in Iowa. I have recently forwarded your blog’s address to some of my colleagues. I know they will enjoy it…

  30. This post makes me appreciate you so much more! I cannot express my gratitude towards you for sharing.

  31. This was a painfully elegant post. I am so touched by the deep emotions you shared with us. My heart aches that you received such horrible treatment by the doctors – the entire experience is heart-wrenching enough without bad bedside manners to compound the problem.

    So many people think that they’re “innocent comments” are no big deal. But they don’t realize how hurtful they are and should just keep their big fat mouths shut. (Can you tell I’m still bitter? hehe)

    You have indeed WON – and oh what a prize you have. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    ((HUGS))

  32. Wow, what a moving post, and what a long and difficult road you’ve travelled to motherhood. And those beautiful smiling faces, so worth it!

  33. ((((HUGS))))
    more ((((HUGS))))
    and still more ((((HUGS))))

    I bet your children are glad it worked out the way it did.

    You are incredible for going through all of that and coming out victorious.
    I’m lucky I know you, and am so grateful you wrote this post.

    Thank you for sharing this experience. You inspire, comfort, relax, and excite with your words, but most of all, you EMPOWER me to follow my heart and never look back.

    I’m impressed that you followed what surely are BIG plans from God and found your children.

    Again, ((((HUGS)))) and thank you for sending me the link to this post.
    I know I will look at my own daughter very differently now, and will lighten up on some of my own ‘issues.’
    Thank you so much CC. I really appreciate you!

  34. The dance theme is a strong one, that’s for sure. I’m hopeful when the song begins and sad when it finally ends, but in the middle? Where your partner actually pays attention to your feet and the rhythm is just not to be for all people, and that is the only sorrow I feel for you. You have these beautiful children and still became a mom.

    You’re awfully inspiring to me. I’m so glad you left a comment on my blog about my own, very different, dance.

  35. Ahhh. The dance. I remember it well. I admit that every now and again some of the same thoughts creep back in. Is there a chance? Could this be it? Then just as fast I think “sick, sick, sick!” “this is sick.”

    Thanks for your honesty.

  36. Thanks for sharing this with me. I never knew your story very well at all. I’m glad to know it now. Someday I expect God to explain this all to us. For now I am grateful for the way he leads each of us differently to the road of parenthood. And grateful that we are now parents which is just sweetness compared to the years of wondering how we’d ever get there.

    we are about a decade into infertility and this is the last year of it for us. we shall see how it ends but how invigorating and hopeful to know that it WILL END.

  37. What a lovely dance, except for the part where the dr was super lame on the phone. Otherwise, lovely.

    I have a special place in my heart for adoption. I am adopted and we are considering adoption from here on out because of Chloe’s genetic problems.

    Thank you for sharing this. I needed it more than you know.

  38. I love how you described it. This truly is a dance, different for everyone but a dance indeed.

  39. So I have been trying to catch up on your blog, and today I ran across this one.
    It is amazing to me how similar life can be for people dealing with totally different things. I am sure many people can relate on many different levels – for me it is love, or it can be health either way :)I can’t wait to get to heaven and have all of life worth it – just to be with God.

  40. We had no trouble conceiving our first child, but haven’t been able to get pregnant a second time…Perhaps the music changed and we’ve been dancing to the wrong song! Thank you so much for sharing your story!
    Carrie Manchester recently posted…Super Duper Speech!My Profile

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