For as long as I can remember, I have deeply desired to become a mama. I was never fearful of those first few days with a baby, but I was afraid of how I would get there…
When I was 15 years old, my cycle stopped, so my mom took me to the doctor. A quick visit, a prescription of birth control to induce cycles, and a “you might have trouble getting pregnant” comment stuck as clearly as the doctor’s hideous pleated, knee-length wool skirt. If she only knew the fear I’d live with for the next 15 years…
In fall 2018, I sat at the dining table with a few failed fertility treatments behind me, a family I love, and a glass of rosé in front of me. I distracted my deep sadness, lack of hope, and shame with sips of wine and bites of bread. I jumped at the space in conversation to share what we were going to do next.
As I shared our plans to fly to Colorado, stay with our generous friend, and see the country’s best fertility doctor, my jaw, heart, and legs ached. I questioned my body’s voice. My mind said this makes sense, but my heart said this is not the path.
Over the last 15 years, woven in the fabric of the fear of not being able to bear children, was a speck of curiosity about adoption. At this point, I had seen 13+ doctors and tried all the things (bioidentical hormones, handfuls of supplements, diets, Chinese herbs, new schedules and routines, acupuncturists). So I asked myself if I was giving up or if I was returning to that curiosity woven within.
Searching for honesty, I visualized adoption and felt joy and peace, but then I thought of telling my husband and felt heavy and scared. Would he think I am a failure? Would he grieve a child with his genes? Would he think I am just out of my mind? Would he be disappointed in me? Would he want to do one more round of IVF? Would he consider our marriage? Would he say no?
My heart exploded when I imagined adoption, but each of these questions had levels of gravity that pulled me deeper down. If I tell my husband, then how do we tell our family? There was not a way out, I had to go in.
I recognized my shame. My identity felt threatened. I created a story that the people I love would think that I was incapable, lacking femininity, weak for not seeking more help, or feeble that I could not live without being a mama.
So I would oscillate…maybe I could handle a few more weeks of squeezing my tummy for three needles a day, daily ultrasounds, thousands of dollars draining from my ‘maternity leave’ savings, including $634 for one dose of estrogen overnighted. My emotions elevated with my estrogen from 30 to 5,000. And to top it all off, none of that could guarantee success. Could I do it again? I would tell myself how weak I am for only being able to do that twice.
Then I would question my deepest desire. Maybe being a mother was not my path. I searched within to visualize the fruits of life without children: We could travel, dine finely, live abroad again, drive fancy cars, shop…
Was I really considering giving up my life-long dream of being a mom because of my fear to say what was making my heart explode?
Weeks passed. My husband, Kevin, and I were driving to Cannon Beach with Maveric, our beast-like dog. We were singing to our favorite Jason Mraz song, “Have it All,” when we came to a lyric in the song that said, “May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows…” I thought, No way. Well, maybe with a baby. And there it was—courage evoked itself. I mustered up the energy to just say it and let it live out loud. “Babe, I don’t want to do another round of IVF, I want to adopt.” After all that worry, it was surprisingly simple. Kevin turned to me and with a confirming smile he agreed that adopting would equally fulfill his desire to grow our family. Looking back, it was as easy as if I was asking him if we could go to phở for dinner. It is easy for me to think that I could have asked sooner. More importantly, I wish I would have trusted our unique love for one another. The mph declined as we arrived into the sandy roads, salty air, and sweet vibes of Cannon Beach. We let Maveric loose toward Haystack Rock, I squeezed Kevin’s hand, he squeezed mine, and I visualized a baby resting on my chest. My mind (for once) was quiet, and I felt Kevin, Earth, and Love so profoundly that I was peace.
We started the adoption process in October 2018, and our baby was born in March 2019. Fifteen years of searching (mind) for answers to fix my body, and within five months of choosing adoption (heart), we had our baby in our arms.
From my exploration of bravery, I have come to believe that bravery cannot be measured. One person’s immense bravery could be another person’s quick decision. What takes all the courage in the world for one is a walk in the park for another. For me, I didn’t feel brave going through IVF or even adopting, but I relied on all the bravery within my bones and blood to speak my truth to the one I love the most.
Yet, without question, the most brave act I have witnessed is the choice to give the most beautiful girl up for adoption. I admire our daughter’s birth mother for modeling a level of bravery that I cannot imagine.