Dual Paths to Motherhood

Two Paths After experiencing secondary infertility, a diagnosis of not being able to get pregnant and stay pregnant for over six months at age 41, I felt I needed to take charge and gain back some control. Is this common? Likely and a topic for future research I believe.

In my experiences I’ve found that if I want something badly enough I will find a way to make it happen. Sometimes I find multiple ways to achieve results. It takes a bit of tenacity and confidence, I call it the dual (or multiple) path approach. 

Advanced maternal age women are likely to take this dual path.

 

It feels a bit crazy when one is in the midst of pursuing both paths, but it allows one to have a greater chance of success faster.

Reading Sharon Simons’ new book Mom at Last, I considered my own past and paths to adding to my family. Sharon S’s is also a story of advanced maternal age and included three rounds of IVF and adoption of two young boys from Siberia, Russia. It’s important writing and caused me to reflect on the choices I’ve made. Sensing that her third round of IVF might not be successful, she Googled “adoption” and quickly discovered the path she wanted, which was international adoption. This head start on her second plan, confidence and resources likely propelled her forward quickly. Her writing indicates she is glad with her choice.

In November 2009 after enduring a second miscarriage, my husband and I attended an information session for prospective foster and adoptive parents. While waiting to hear if we were to be accepted into the training program, we began our donor egg IVF paperwork and testing. We selected our donor. While waiting for her tests to be completed, we were selected to start our foster/adopt training in March. Daily hormone shots, paperwork and Saturday training classes filled my non-working hours in the Spring of 2010. Sometimes they were all consuming. I handled most of the work. I did not want end the year and turn 43 without some progress towards my goal, a sibling for my son.

While our procedure was not successful, we did receive our certification as foster and adoptive parents. Our first placement came seven weeks later and is now our adoptive daughter. Goal achieved.

Have you taken dual paths to motherhood? We’d love to hear your story.

Carrie’s* Story

 

My journey began in my mid 30’s when I was single and had some painful female health challenges. I had to go through emergency surgery to remove a twisted ovary. The surgeon found that I had a number of uterine fibroids and referred me to a fertility specialist to try and repair my uterus, as I had hoped to ensure my future fertility. She did my surgery, and I really connected with her and knew that she would be my fertility doctor when the time was right. I eventually married and we went through clomid cycles and multiple IUI’s yet were unsuccessful, so we took a break. Infertility can be very hard on a marriage and ours was categorized as undiagnosed infertility, so we had no explanation which was frustrating. Eventually we decided to go the adoption route and also resumed fertility treatments, hoping to cover both bases and raise our odds.

We received the most incredible news of a positive pregnancy test and learned of a mother who wanted us to adopt her child all within a few days! We were so excited! Two babies at once was an unexpected yet welcome blessing! Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana, and within that same week I miscarried our baby due to a tubal pregnancy.  Then the birth mother of the child changed her mind, deciding to keep her baby. I had several surgeries due to the miscarriage, and shortly afterwards my husband walked away from our marriage.  I learned much later that he had been seeing another woman while we were undergoing fertility treatments and going through our adoption process.  I was devastated, yet I still held on to the dream of Motherhood.

After the divorce was finalized, I resumed the adoption route only to find that single mothers have quite a challenge adopting American babies through our agencies. I was told that most American birth mothers don’t really want to give their children to another single mother to raise on their own, so I started exploring international adoption. All the while, I still had this deep ache in my heart to carry a child in my womb. I visited with international agencies and found a few countries that would allow single mothers to adopt. I narrowed it down to the country, chose a wonderful agency and invested a lot of time, money and emotions to the process. Over a year into waiting for my baby, I learned that the country I had chosen closed relations with the United States and we didn’t know when they would resume. At that point I began to wonder if perhaps I was supposed to take these doors closing as a sign that I should try to carry a child on my own.

I visited again with my Dr. and she gave me all of my options, offered her valuable insight, and I left her office with such hope in my heart. I will always treasure her wisdom. I went through tests and found that I was no longer fertile, which was such difficult news to hear. Yet she did assure me that I had a very high probability of getting pregnant through the donor program. I wanted to be a Mom more than anything on this earth and knew that if I was willing to adopt a baby then why not adopt an egg? If I am carrying then I can provide all the best health care and nutrition to my child during the pregnancy. While there was no 100% guarantee of a successful pregnancy, it did seem to be best option to increase my chances of parenting within a reasonable amount of time. All of the funds invested in international adoption were nonrefundable and yet in the end it was still less expensive to go through the donor IVF program than to adopt internationally. As a single mom, all of this information was important to consider.

I ended up choosing to go through the donor program and finalized on the donor after my first choice didn’t pass all of her lab tests.  I felt completely confident in my decision with this donor and have never looked back. I felt like I had a dream team of cheerleaders rooting for me. I had to administer all of my own shots going through the IVF procedure, and while that was not the most pleasant part of the process, I was able to do it. It is amazing what one can do when you keep your eyes focused on the goal. I went through one IVF cycle with my donor and was pregnant with twins. Twin pregnancy as a single woman was challenging for sure yet my OB/GYN said it was a textbook pregnancy.  There is no question that living alone carrying twins was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and yet also the most rewarding.  I have a wonderful family who supported me along the way.  My children were born at 38 weeks with healthy weights and no NICU was necessary. I am now 44 years old and my son and daughter will be 3 this summer.

While it was a lengthy, emotion-filled and difficult road, with many twists and turns, I reached my goal and am living my dream. I have two incredibly beautiful, smart, healthy, active children who are the joys of my life. Yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat and encourage those of you going through infertility to remain hopeful. I am living proof that it is possible!  Your original plans may have to be altered in one way or another, so staying flexible and open to what options present themselves will help you get through this process.

In retrospect, I know that I am a better Mom in my 40’s than I would have been in my 20’s and 30’s. Through these years I have been taught the value of patience, hope, faith and to never give up on my dreams, no matter what life puts in my path. Honestly, my heart still hurts for the child that I miscarried and the loss of my fertility, yet in hindsight I do see incredible wisdom in the timing of my children and they way the arrived. They are the most precious gift I have ever received and well worth the wait. Everything has come together so beautifully and has all worked out for the very best so it is with eyes of gratitude that I view this journey.

*Pseudonym given at the request of the author.