As far as I can remember, everything in my life has basically gone according to plan. There were no major bumps in the road that was my life. I had a clean bill of health, scored average grades in school, and grew up in a loving home with kind parents and a brainy sister. My hobbies were simple too. I went shopping for plain Jane clothes, I enjoyed watching a lot of TV, and I went running to stay healthy. Pretty uneventful, right?!? I couldn’t even shake things up with the excitement of a cavity or a broken bone.
Everything was well in the world.
Fast forward to the year 2006 when my husband and I considered the idea of starting a family. Everything else had gone according to plan, why would this be any different? After a number of months, and just as many negative pregnancy tests, we started to wonder if something was wrong. We tried everything from fertility charts to acupuncture but nothing was working. Acquaintances told us to “relax” and to “go on vacation”. I cringed at comments like, “Be glad you don’t have kids. Your body will never be the same and you will feel exhausted, and stressed out like never before.” Soon doctors started to prescribe the three letter remedies to cure our unexplained infertility. We tried several rounds of IUI, but they only resulted in loss and heartache. Soon our doctor uttered the three letters we’d never thought we’d hear: I.V.F. I never could have imagined that we would be THAT couple because IVF was for couples who were really having trouble conceiving. After endless procedures and too many prescriptions to count, we thought the worst was over until we heard the results of our pregnancy test, “not pregnant”. Insert the sound of one of those big steel bank doors being slammed shut and locked with our dreams of becoming parents vanishing into thin air.
IUI and IVF are major life-changing events for a couple who is experiencing infertility, especially when you don’t get the results you are hoping and praying for. There is a word limit here so I won’t go into the details, but if you ever want to chat, I could talk about it for hours over my two favourite boxes: one named Kleenex and the other is Merlot. I want to get to the good part for those of you who like a happy ending. Or maybe you are going through a similar experience and you wonder how our story turns out. Remember that brainy sister I mentioned in the first paragraph? She’s not only smart but she also has a giant heart and is a selfless superwoman.
For more than a year she gave up all rights to her family privacy and shared a gift that not many could or would. My sister became a gestational carrier for me and my husband. The procedure we followed is very similar to IVF but it involved my sister as the recipient of one of our remaining frozen embryos. One very memorable day in 2012 we found out that she was pregnant after the very first embryo transfer.
I will never be able to find the words to thank my sister and her family for all they did to help us realize our dream of becoming parents. It is hard to find the words to express such strong emotions and feelings. Side note: Hallmark doesn’t make a thank you card intended for gestational carriers. This is definitely a missed opportunity. I can just see the card now…
-Honey, can you run to the store and pick up that thank you card that reads, “Congratulations! You’re pregnant…with your sister’s baby!”
-Is that the one where the husband is standing around the water cooler telling his buddies, “Yes, she’s pregnant. No, the baby is NOT MINE. It’s my brother-in-law’s”?
-No, no, that’s not the one. It’s the card with the picture of an overcrowded delivery room where THREE people are nervously waiting around at the foot of the bed. The wide eyes and awkward looks on their faces tell you they have NO IDEA where they should be looking.
-Oh right! I’ll be back in a jiffy!
In 2013, my husband and I were finally able to announce (this still gives me the goose bumps) that we are the parents of a beautiful little girl.
While the memories of those 7 long years are still fresh in our minds, we are more than happy to tell you we are back to living a reasonably average life again. My hobbies include going shopping for plain Jane MOM clothes, watching a lot of Dora on TV, and running after a toddler to stay healthy. We have bags under our eyes, our life revolves around dirty diapers and nap times and we couldn’t be happier. What seemed like an insurmountable bump in the road turned into a unique journey, to say the least. This is just the first chapter of the story of a little girl and an adoring aunt who will always share a special connection.
Everything is well in our world again!!
(Well, almost everything. There once was that poor lady who thought she was being helpful by telling me that the last ten pounds of baby weight are always the most difficult to lose. She’s not well at all.)