A dear friend texted me today, “I want to tell you happy Mother’s Day. I know all too well how hard this day can be. You WILL be an AMAZING mom!!!”
I have to agree, I will be an amazing mom. Not because I’ve read tens of parenting books (I haven’t, but I probably should). Not because I have some special way with children (I don’t). Not because I have an incredible husband who empowers and encourages me (I do, and that definitely doesn’t hurt). Not because I’ve been yearning to be a mother for years now and I have so much love to give (although that’s true).
It’s because I have an AMAZING mom.
This photo, from my wedding day, is one of my favorite photos of us ever. It reminds me of every ballet recital she prepared me for and every homecoming or prom she did my hair just the way I wanted. As I stare at the photo, I can remember so many moments with her standing behind me, helping me along.
In settling into foster care preparations, I’ve nearly forgotten the heartbreak our infertility caused me. So much so, that when my friend sent me that text this morning, I was almost caught off guard remembering how awful this day could have been. Ian and I talked during our dating days about being foster parents, and as this situation continues to unravel, it feels so clearly like we were meant for this. But I also realize we probably wouldn’t have made it to foster care without infertility. And I’m okay with that. But I might not have been if not for a simple conversation with my mom…
A couple months ago, I told her Ian and I were moving forward with foster care. She had come to visit and we were driving to see my little sister coach a volleyball game. She started talking about how me, Shannon, and Jessi (my sisters) are so different. Simply because she bore us didn’t make us clones of her or give her some telepathic connection to us. Sure, we shared some physical traits, but other than that we were our own people. The character traits I have resembling my mom aren’t because she gave birth to me. I have them because she raised me. And something about that conversation was so healing for me.
That conversation answered the nagging, devastating question of “What if Ian and I never get to see what our biological children look like?” I don’t think the root cause behind that question really had to do with aesthetics, I think it had to do with connection. Can I innately, immediately understand what a child needs without being it’s biological mother? No, I can’t. But that’s ok, because as it turns out that’s a learned skill for all moms alike. There wasn’t some telepathic connection that told my mom I was hungry when I was a newborn, she learned through trial and error of going through the checklist of things to pacify a crying baby. There wasn’t some telepathic connection that told my mom I skinned my knee by falling off my bike, she learned because I’d come crying and limping back home with blood trickling down my leg. A telepathic connection didn’t tell my mom I was struggling to get dressed for college graduation because I was sobbing, devastated by a recent breakup—I did, when I called her and told her, somewhat unintelligibly through sobs, that I couldn’t get my sweater on.
And even without these superhuman powers, she still manages to be superhuman. Over three decades after my birth, she still champions me and the desires of my heart.
Mom, thanks for being the best mom ever (not biased or anything). I’m sorry I can’t give you the gift of gleefully telling all your friends that you’re going to be a grandma (again) in the traditional sense of the word, but somehow I feel like that doesn’t bother you. I know you’re striving to understand your role as a foster grandma and how best to support Ian and I and our future children in this, but rest assured you continuing to stand behind us and cheerlead this journey is all the support we need.
I realize that I still need to explain my third hard thought – What if Ian and I will never get to see what our biological children will look like?
But that has to wait, because this weekend something exciting happened. We both timidly, cautiously, and hopefully decided(ish) that we’ll proceed with foster care as a means to making our family.
To back up just a bit, we had our IVF class at Nashville Fertility Center on Wednesday and left feeling discouraged because they weren’t prepared with a plan for us (partially our fault, because they wanted to double-check my AMH, but frustrating nonetheless). We spent Wednesday evening talking about IVF and embryo adoption and decided we’d probably move forward with embryo adoption. Then Thursday came, and we decided IVF, and somehow that turned into a fight. Mean words were said without consideration, tears were shed, and it’s the first time I think it really hit me that I can understand how infertility tears a couple apart.
After our fight, I went out to grab dinner with one of my dearest friends, Jessie, and, kindly, she listened, counseled, and encouraged. In the embarrassment of some of the words I spoke, she made me feel better. Everyone needs a friend like that. Someone who can straighten you out when shit hits the fan with your significant other (or any valuable person in your life).
I went home renewed and with a fresh perspective. I hugged Ian and apologized for being so awful, and we were good. But still, neither of us were sold on embryo adoption or IVF. I don’t know if it’s the money, the gamble, the physical toll, the continued heartache…but something about it never feels totally right with either of us.
Then a series of little things happened. For starters, one of my best friends, Theresa, is beginning her foster mom journey as a single mom to two teenage girls and they should be moving in with her this week – and it has been such a joyful experience to contribute in small ways and watch her pursue this. Then, I found the trailer for My Life as a Zucchini.
Inspired by this trailer, I looked up #fostertoadopt on Instagram and stumbled upon Foster the Family. For anyone considering foster care, this blog is a must read. I sent it to Ian. And by Saturday morning, we were leaning toward foster care. That’s why I say decided(ish). We bebop around from idea to idea and have a bit of decision paralysis. But we both feel most hopeful about foster care. Not hopeful that this is a route to adoption (although, we would love for that to be the outcome someday), but hopeful that this is our chance to make a family and love on children we can call our own, even if only for a few weeks or months.
This decision feels like it has a finality to it. And I felt even better about it when at one point on Saturday as we were talking about foster care, Ian said to me, “Do you think we’ll end up doing this (foster care) and our lives will be so rich and full that we’ll look back on this (our infertility) and realize it was a blessing?”
My spirit rejoiced. Those have been the most God-breathed words either of us have spoken through this whole journey.
And now, as we begin to move away from assisted reproductive technology and into foster care, would you please pray for us? We start our foster care classes tomorrow night. We are anxious, we are ill-equipped, but we are hopeful.
Second hard thought, this is my fault.
I mentioned a couple of posts back that our doctor had some concern about my ovary size and follicles. And then I did research, and wasn’t very encouraged.
By the way, our fourth IUI didn’t work, but my Clomid Challenge results were normal.
At our first consultation with our doctor, she mentioned my small ovaries and 10ish follicles and I feel like I was led to believe that was fine and normal. Then in our second visit, she didn’t seem to think my AMH aligned with those issues. Which is frustrating, but I won’t get into that yet.
After our second visit, I Googled the crap out of “follicle count” and how it related to fertility and IVF. And I found this: