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Seasons of infertility: infertility with children

“My infertility did not go away when we started growing our family. My children did not cure my infertility. That is not their job.” (Sonia-Maria)


“Each day I stand in the gap between acceptance of who my family is now and a desire for my body to heal and give more children a chance at life.” (Elizabeth)


 

God’s plan for my motherhood through adoption

By Sonia-Maria Szymanski


“Wait?! You still feel sad over your infertility? But you have children!” How many times have I heard that one before? It is easy to assume once we become mothers via adoption that we no longer struggle with our infertility. Sadly, this is not the case. There is a difference in becoming a mother biologically or through adoption. Eventually, I found the best way to explain it was by sharing my experience. As I began to share my story, it became easier for others to understand that even though I am a mom, I never stopped being a “mom with infertility.” Let me share my experience.


I did not get a positive pregnancy test. I got matched with a mother carrying a child she loved with all her heart, but was not equipped to parent.

I did not get a gender reveal. I was told over the phone by our lawyer.

I do not have an ultrasound picture. I wasn’t there for any of that.

I did not have a pregnancy announcement. We told our families we were matched and then needed to explain what “being matched” meant.

I did not have a baby shower. I was not guaranteed the baby would be ours.

I did not get to see my children come into this world. I got a phone call informing me the birth mom gave birth and was told to wait 24-48 hours.

I was not the first one to hold my children. I had to patiently wait until the birth mother asked me if I wanted to hold the baby she was cradling.

I did not make my husband a dad. Another woman did!



In becoming a mom in this manner, I had to be humble and obedient to His will and plan. I never thought becoming a mom via adoption would be so challenging on a physical, mental and spiritual level. The waiting alone was excruciating. During moments of anguish and anger, I reflected on the agony Jesus suffered during His passion. All He could do was be humble and obedient. He could have easily gotten Himself out of that mess. All He had to do was choose to disobey the Father. But He didn’t. He obeyed the loving Father. I had to do the same.


I could have chosen to pursue fertility treatments that would endanger my body and soul. How easy it would have been to go for IVF or other artificial reproductive technologies. Instead, I chose a challenging yet more loving option for my soul, body and marriage. Adoption was not a last resort. It was the path to motherhood which I chose to embrace. 


My infertility did not go away when we started growing our family. My children did not cure my infertility. That is not their job. That is not why I was blessed with them. They cured my childlessness. In becoming more obedient though the humbling adoption process, I realized how blessed I was to still experience motherhood. I may have missed a lot of their earliest moments but in the end, I get to be my children’s mom each and every day! Yes, I sometimes feel sad about my infertility. But I choose to use it to help others carry their cross. This path was given to me by God. I don’t have to understand it. All I have to do is obey and follow because all paths given to us by God lead to joy! 


 

Walking through secondary infertility with children

By Elizabeth Miller


“You don’t have to watch,” I told my son as the phlebotomist tied the tourniquet around my arm. “I don’t mind, mom,” he replied. This wasn’t the first time I’d carted my child to a lab draw to check my hormone levels. When he was younger I tried to schedule blood tests when I was sure I’d have childcare so he wouldn’t have to watch. By now, though, I’d gotten used to bringing my kids along, balancing a Bluey show on my phone with the arm that wasn’t getting a needle stuck in it.


My two living boys are five and a half years apart. I realize now what a miracle each one actually is. My first took about 8 months and the help of some meds to conceive. The second took 5 years and the help of 3 doctors, 1 surgery and some meds to conceive. We lost my third. Now, after trying for another child for over a year, I’ve learned that a complication occurred during my second child’s birth that requires more surgery… and waiting… before I can safely carry another child in my womb.


This journey. This saga. It feels endless. 


I often feel like I’m in the middle of a tug of war. The chasm in my heart between the joy of getting to raise a child – even two! – and the grief of not being able to provide another sibling soon, or ever, is heart-wrenching. The dichotomy between my gratitude hearing “mama” for the first time and the resentment I sometimes feel toward friends, acquaintances and even strangers who have many children is tough to explain. My children’s giggles contrast with my quiet tears at night as the overwhelm looms. Well-meaning people remind me to be grateful for my children, which of course I am, deeply! But I also yearn for the one(s) that will complete our family. Each day I stand in the gap between acceptance of who my family is now and a desire for my body to heal and give more children a chance at life.  


I feel guilty at times as well. Guilty that I have living children that need me, love me and say funny things while others don’t. Sometimes I feel I should be silent when infertility conversations come up, lest someone experiencing primary infertility feel resentful that I have two and they have none, not realizing what hell we’ve experienced these past 10 years. Ironically, I fear judgment from the only group of women who might have an idea of what I’m going through.



By contrast, I don’t always fit in with other parents either. I can’t count the number of times an unfortunate comment has sent me scurrying to the bathroom to take some deep breaths behind a stall door. “So, that’s a big age difference; you didn’t want to have your kids closer together?” or “She had seven kids, think you’ll get there?” or the hardest, “We’re expecting again! Can’t believe it took 4 months this time!” as their 5, 3, and 1 year-old hover nearby. When this happens, it’s hard not to compare myself with others and feel lonely in a crowd.


But in the end, it all boils down to waiting, doesn’t it? Waiting for lab results. Waiting for surgery. Waiting three minutes for each pregnancy test. Waiting for the next cycle. Waiting for another of my much younger sisters to get pregnant again. And waiting to see where God leads in all of that. Because He is leading. Each ill-timed comment, prayer, heartbreak and surrender leads me closer to His wounded, sacred heart. I do believe there’s a plan – that there’s a great, beautiful reason for all of this difficulty that I’ll get to understand, hopefully someday in heaven, but if I’m lucky, maybe when I’m 80. It’s just pretty darn hard waiting until then. As I wait, I will snuggle these children, and, as excruciatingly difficult as it can be, I will try so hard to surrender – daily – because that’s all the Lord is asking me to do.


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