I married later in life and the question of when to have children never came up. We just knew we wanted them and didn’t care if they came right away. Many people have a difficult first year of adjustment when first married. We didn’t. It seemed like our lives meshed together and God gave us a special bond of understanding between one another. Why not share it with a child?
About a year into marriage I went to my GYN for a check up and simply mentioned our desire to have a child and that we weren’t using birth control. I can remember her taking out a new folder and putting my name on it and next to my name she placed the word “Infertility.”
Although it was well over 20 years ago, I can still see that chart clearly in my mind and remember the strong emotional reaction I had. “I was not infertile, I was just not pregnant!” That day I went from a calm young wife to a woman on a mission. I was no longer happily intimate with my husband, I was scheduling “on demand” ovulation opportunities that had to be met or I sulked, believing my dear husband must not want a child as much as I did.
Ovulation sticks and charts filled our lives and then one day after countless disappointing pregnancy tests the magic stick showed positive. I was at the office when I took the test…immediately called the doctor for an appointment and drove directly to her office for a confirmation. Leaving her office laden down with vitamins and pamphlets I went home to figure out how to tell my husband! I remember the exhilaration and I think I even celebrated that my folder name was about to change. My husband was as thrilled as I was and we told family and friends.
I remember going to church about 5 weeks later and going to the bathroom and seeing blood. I went to the hospital. They spent an entire day trying to save the baby…I spent the night there and in the morning went home after D&C, heartbroken.
I can remember that being a quiet week. I was very introspective. Someone brought me a meat loaf and I can remember how much it meant. Not that I couldn’t get up and cook, but that someone recognized the great loss of life to us. That miscarriage taught me more about grieving and caring for someone else than most of the losses in my life.
Before that time I was among those people who wanted to help in moments like this and said incredibly insensitive things like… “There might have been something wrong with the baby, this was probably for the best.” or “You always can try again.” I didn’t care if God knew something might be wrong with my baby, I believed He could heal my child. I knew I could try again, but I loved this baby. The scripture “Weep with those who weep” became very real to me.
It seemed to everyone else I had a miscarriage…to me I lost a baby. Time passed and we again tried but now there seemed to be a huge time clock ticking away in my heart. Mother’s Day became very painful and my demands on my husband were resulting in silent attitudes in my heart. Every opportunity mattered and if we weren’t in perfect submission to the almighty ovulation stick I would feel a sense of despair and quiet anger.
The doctor then put me on Clomed and my system couldn’t take it. I became so emotional and anxiety ridden that I was in tears most of the time. Finally the magic stick turned positive, but this time we only told my mom. Could it be all this insanity was finally over?
Weeks passed and I began to wonder if I was going to have a boy or girl Then one night the cramping began and it was over before I could even make a doctors appointment. I went on in silent grief dreading again taking the shots needed to continue.
I remember going back to the hospital and waiting to go into surgery for a D&C and feeling so sad. I came out of surgery and was in a recovery room when an aide came in and cheerfully asked if I had had a boy or girl. I choked out that I had lost my baby and she fell over herself apologizing. I could hear babies crying up and down the hallway and wondered how cruel it was to put gals with miscarriages on the same floor as moms holding new babies.
Life went on and a few months later I went in to begin the Clomed. A few days later I began to hemorrhage and went back to the doctors…I remember her saying ‘this shouldn’t happen unless you were already….’ She never finished the sentence and I left feeling that somehow another pregnancy had been lost. I stopped the shots and went home and just accepted the loss. Always in my mind were the words on the folder, infertile.
Later that year a co-worker and his wife went to Ukraine and adopted two children. They were gone three long weeks but when they came back they encouraged us to also try. My husband was initially reluctant but agreed to try. A friend who had done much work over there agreed to help us so we began filling the countless forms to begin the adoption.
After many months the excitement began to grow. As the time got close to travel, we began to purchase baby clothes to bring our child home. We decorated a nursery and stocked it well. Earlier that year I had lost my dear mom to leukemia. I tried to keep her going with the hope of a new grandchild but she slipped silently into heaven before we traveled.
I remember the morning we left clearly. My only brother was scheduled for open heart surgery, my sister-in law fell, and shattered her leg trying to get into her car and was taken to emergency, and my dear father, still grieving, drove us to the airport, obviously fearful of us heading to foreign country. My heart was all over the place.
We arrived and traveled from Moscow by train to the southern part of Ukraine, Krivoy Rog. We stayed with believers who had agreed to help and worked with the church there to encourage believers. It was a ministry/adoption trip.
So many wonderful things happened but it seemed difficult to get paper work accomplished. We finally heard of a little baby girl and traveled to a lead city to secure the adoption. When we arrived they confiscated our papers and said there was a moratorium against foreign adoptions and we would not receive a child.
We were again devastated and on the trip home I began to weep. I cried for the loss of yet another child, the loss of my mom, and shear emotional exhaustion. After completing another week of ministry there we returned home.
To say I was numb was an understatement. I remember looking at our beautiful nursery and wondering what to do with it. Six months passed and our friend approached us about returning to the Ukraine, he felt sure it was the right time. Somehow, we agreed and updated our paperwork and again prepared to travel.
This time we traveled to another city and stayed in a small apartment where college students would show up and sometimes also stay. This time we were approved by the head of that region and we went to an orphanage and found our little girl. I can remember the first time they put this little 7 pound baby in my arms, my heart bonded instantly and I knew I would do anything to bring her home. My husband had the same reaction. It took that kind of commitment as our paperwork got sabotaged and it would be almost 3 months before we would take this little girl home. Living and fighting the legal system in a foreign country is an experience all its own.
I was again emotionally spent by the time our adoption was finalized. We had been through the courts and on countless trains between cities. Our visas had run out and we were illegal aliens. We had both lost 25 pounds. Finally, they placed our daughter in our arms and told us it was over, we could go home.
As hard as we had to fight for this baby, I can still remember thinking. “Someone just gave me a life. Someone just gave me a baby.”
It had been an uphill battle and even as we attempted to board our plane home, the airport clerk refused to stamp our baby’s passport and ticket. Moments before take off and with everyone waiting for me, I began to weep in front of him. He looked helpless, stamped the ticket and I ran to the plane and boarded with my child and returned home, a mother.
It is amazing to me how answered prayer takes the sting out of the painful past. Two years later, we boarded another plane to bring home our second child. Another eventful story, another time. Life for us was now filled with the laughter of two precious little girls. I know at the time I didn’t understand why God would allow those miscarriages, but I also know we would have never traveled to adopt. We wouldn’t have wanted to miss these two for the world! He knew I had much to learn in my pain. He also knew the children I was meant to mom.
Years have passed and that little girl I fought so hard to bring home gave me the most precious gift since she was placed in my arms. She gave me a grandson and he is perfect. How life changes and how love deepens. God is indeed faithful, especially in our pain. Psalms 68:6 says God places the lonely in families. He truly brings beauty from ashes and we are so grateful for the plan He had for our lives.