I was just a normal nine year old little girl in fourth grade when I received the life altering diagnosis of Clear Cell Carcinoma, a rare form of cervical cancer. Because I have told this story over many times, I know you are re-reading that sentence and asking yourself if you read it right. Yes, you did. A nine year old with cervical cancer. Now, I would bet you’re asking yourself how! I’m in that same boat with you. I wish I knew. I guess that will always be a medical mystery.
Even now, as a 27 year old woman who has lived with the aftermath of cancer for the large majority of my life, I find myself sometimes asking, “Why?” But, this isn’t a sad story, don’t worry. It’s going to be a very happy story and I’m hoping you will help us find our happy ending.
In order to save my life, my doctors performed a radical hysterectomy. Translation: I have ovaries, but no uterus. I healed and went on living a normal life and I can proudly say that I have been cancer free ever since!!
Next thing I knew, I was a thirteen year old teenager, again living a normal life. Until one Saturday night, I woke up with extreme stomach pain. When I say extreme, I am not exaggerating. I don’t even think I can describe to you how much pain I was in. I will never forget what that felt like. I woke up my dad and he rushed me to the ER, only to be diagnosed with constipation. Are you kidding me?! I can remember thinking, there is no way that is what this is. I went home and tried to work through it for over 24 hours. This takes us to Monday morning. I don’t remember much of what happened next. My telling of this is all second hand from what I later was told by my mother.
She came in my room to check on me. I had turned green and the things I was saying to her did not make sense. She says that it sounded like I was speaking gibberish. She rushed me back to the ER. My pain was unfathomable at this point; I could barely walk or move. They rushed me into emergency surgery. They found that the scar tissue from my hysterectomy had wrapped around my small intestine and caused a blockage. In the 24+ hours it took them to discover the issue, I had developed Gangrene. It is important to note here, that in the surgical notes that I have acquired recently, it states that my ovaries were visible on my left side. It is also important to note, that if I am understanding what the doctors tell me now correctly, during these types of surgeries the ovaries are to be sewn to the lining of the stomach. I don’t think that happened due to the emergency nature of my surgery.
Moving on. Fast forward to 2010. Please note that if you were sitting across from me as I’m writing this right now, you would have hopefully noticed a smile just spread across my face. This is the happy part.
I had just finished my freshman year of college at Georgetown College. I was preparing for a trip to my hometown in California to visit my family. My aunt called me and said, “Do you have a boyfriend?” Reluctantly, I answered “no.” She began to explain that she had a great guy that she wanted to introduce me to when I came and all the things about him that made him so great. I laughed it off and didn’t think anything else of it. Little did I know, I was headed to meet the man of my dreams who in just four short years, would become my husband.
I arrived in California and was introduced to Jake. If you’ve ever met Jake, you probably had the same initial reaction to him that I did because all I can remember thinking was “Wow, he is tall!” If you’ve not met Jake, let me just paint a picture. He is a giant. He is 6’7”. Looking back at this memory now, it feels like a lifetime ago. I feel like I’ve always known Jake. If you’ve watched the bachelor franchise then you’ll know I stole this line. But, I truly feel like my heart just recognized his. Later on that night, after he had left, I can remember thinking, “I hope I see him again, he was cute.” Spoiler alert! I did see him again.
We spent almost all of our time together that summer while I was in California. We had instant chemistry. We learned that we went to all the same schools growing up and even had a lot of mutual friends when I had lived in California but had never known each other. Jake had just graduated high school and was headed to Arizona to start college and I was headed back to the bluegrass. We decided that maintaining a friendship was easier than a long distance relationship.
I was sad (If you’re my mom reading this right now, you’re probably rolling your eyes and laughing). I was more than sad. Please keep in mind I was eighteen and even more dramatic than I am now. So, if I’m being honest, I thought my life was over. I contemplated moving back to California, briefly. Mom vetoed that idea pretty quickly. One night I was crying on mom’s front porch and I said to her, “I’m never going to see him again.” I’ll never forget what she said next, which was, “Nicole stop it. You never know! You may end up marrying him.” If you’ve ever been a teenage girl you’ll probably join me in saying: I hate admitting it but my mom is always right. I’m glad that she was right about this though.
Two years went by and I obviously got over it. I dated other people; Jake dated other people. We went on and continued college life as normal. But, we kept coming back to each other. I would message him when I was single to “catch up” but he would be with someone. Then he would message me to “catch up” and I would be with someone. It wasn’t our time yet.
Finally, in 2012, the stars aligned. It was spring semester; I was a junior and Jake was a sophomore. We started talking and I guess we just haven’t stopped since. We decided it was silly to not be together because we were afraid of a long distance relationship. As they say, the rest is history. I fell in love with him so quickly and if you’ve ever met Jake, you’ll know why.
We made it through long distance for a year and a half. We got engaged in 2013. That same year, after I graduated school, I moved to Arizona to be with Jake for his senior year. We got married on June 14th, 2014. That was the best day.
Sorry for boring you with all the details of my love story. Now let’s get to the reason you are reading this. We always knew we wanted kids more than your average newlyweds. I don’t know if it’s because we knew it wouldn’t be the same for us like it seems to be for everyone else. But the only way I can describe it to you is to say that we want it bad. I can’t speak for Jake, but for me, it’s like a yearning. I always knew I was meant to be a mother. I thought it was bad back then, but it’s worse now. At least back then most of my friends didn’t have kids. Now, I love spending time with my friends and their kids but it makes me want it more.
In 2016, after we bought our house. We decided that we were officially ready to try to make it happen. I always wondered about the possibility of having biological kids because I still had my ovaries. I knew that we could have a surrogate but I worried about the cost. After doing research, I learned that it might be doable. We decided to make an appointment with a fertility specialist to get more information. I was so excited.
We arrived for our appointment and began to talk to the doctor about possible options and things we had researched. He stopped me and said that he thought it would be a good idea to do an ultrasound first just to see if my eggs were even accessible before we talked about options. I had a bad feeling when he said that. We started the ultrasound. All I can remember doing during the ultrasound was staring at his face. It took forever, he looked and looked. I knew it before he said it. They couldn’t find them. They took us back to a room to talk about an egg donor. I didn’t even listen to anything else they had to say.
I got in the car and instantly broke down. I can’t remember a time when I was ever that angry. I don’t even know who I was angry at. I just kept repeating the same things over and over again. “Why is this happening to me? What could I have possibly done to deserve this? This isn’t fair.” I cried in bed all night long.
The next morning I woke up with a new thought. I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. I thought, there is a reason this is happening but it hasn’t reveled itself. I know without one shred of doubt, that when I get to hold my baby for the first time, I will understand why this happened to me. Everything will make sense. I know that for sure. I also realized, that whether my baby came biologically or through adoption I would love them with all my heart!!
That is when we decided to grow our family through adoption. As I’m looking back on everything that has led us to this point, I can’t help but feel like it was all fate. Every piece of our puzzle had a purpose. It feels like we were meant for this. I know that everything will become so crystal clear to me the moment we lay eyes on our baby for the first time and I can’t tell you how excited I am for that moment. I catch myself daydreaming about it all the time.
The hardest part of our adoption journey has been the wait. The waiting is hard. Some days are harder than others. But we lean on each other and we are making it work. The second hardest part of our adoption journey has been trying to figure out the financial aspect. The average situation that we come across costs $35,000-$55,000. Crazy right?! I thought so to. When you see it all broken down it makes sense. But, that doesn’t make it any easier to come up with that kind of money. It has been a challenge. I worry constantly that we don’t have enough and we will have to pass on our perfect situation because of finances. After every struggle that we have overcome, it seems silly to let money be the last thing keeping us from bringing our missing piece home.
That’s where you come in. Thank you so much for reading our story and considering helping us through this last part of our journey. We can’t wait to proudly introduce you to baby Grenier!