The only emotion more powerful than fear is hope. The fear of failure can stop a person in their tracks, but the hope of tomorrow can endure forever. Hope can sustain a broken heart, console a grieving wife, and point a couple toward the future. Hope is love. Hope is laughter. Hope is loss. Hope is sorrow. To hope is what it is to be uniquely human.
This is our untold infertility story. It’s graphic, it’s personal and it’s heartbreaking — but it’s hopeful.
On Aug. 20, 2013, I started a blog simply titled, “Letterbaby: Coming to a womb near you.” Two years into our marriage, we were happy, healthy and ready to start a family. My idea was sentimental – start a blog not intended for anyone else but our future child. I wrote to Letterbaby about our dreams, about the things we would do, memories we would make and the traditions we would share. Adam wrote about President Lincoln and sideburns. After a year of trying, we were nowhere close to meeting Letterbaby. No indication at all. So we headed to the doctor. Test the man first they said, it’s easier. So we did.
A developmental issue in his youth left Adam sterile as an adult. Everything stopped. The world stopped. We stopped. Life stopped. But hope lived on. We could do this, we could still have a baby, it just wouldn’t happen how we thought.
The doctor gave us options, the best of which was IUI – intrauterine insemination. My egg, frozen sperm. So we set about to pick a donor. I read profile after profile: This guy has a master’s in engineering. You know STEM is in demand, Adam. But this guy is in theater. Oh we need a sensitive little theater kid. But what about sports? Or eye color? Or hair color? Or family history, background, religion, height, curly hair … the list was endless. I searched and searched for the perfect sperm until I realized that was never really an option. The perfect sperm never would be. We picked a donor and went to town.
My friends said, “So, it’s basically a turkey baster situation, right?” Far from the truth. In reality, it’s the coldest, most sterile, most unsexy, unloving and nerve-racking thing I’ve ever been though. And it hurts. It hurts when it’s happening, it hurts for hours afterwards. And it cost $1,600. Then you wait. At least two weeks before you can take a pregnancy test. Two nerve-wracking weeks.
Our first IUI was on Aug. 29, 2015. After months of hormones and weeks of testing my pee for ovulation, I got a smiley face on this stick. We were ecstatic. We both took off work, unsure what to expect. We were nervous and anxious, but happy. Hope burst from us. We could be becoming parents at this very moment. Afterwards, Adam took me to Target to touch the baby clothes – in hopes of stimulating my egg – a small thing we had scarcely allowed ourselves before.
We were in Topeka, Kansas, over Labor Day weekend when I took that first pregnancy test: Negative. It was devastating. I cried. I cried more than I’ve ever cried before. I sat there on the side of the bed in Adam’s arms a complete mess. Why had my body failed me?
Over the course of the next year, we had five more IUI procedures — the maximum allowable and each at $1,600 a pop. Each negative was worse than the one before it—the hormones compounded with the loss and guilt were too much. I couldn’t function from day to day. The sorrow was like a blanket over my heart, heavy with the hope of what could have been and dripping with the sadness of what never would be.
What was wrong with me? Why didn’t it take? I started in on a battery of tests – one more awkward and painful than the next, but our savings account was running low. Spending nearly $10,000 on failed procedures will do that. Insurance does not cover infertility testing, procedures or treatments. It’s considered elective and we were on our own. They presented the option of IVF, which started around $15,000 and went up from there. I went into research mode and it was horrifying. The female body can endure a lot, but I didn’t know if my heart could handle a new roller coaster. The money, the physical hardship – given my age, I had a 30 percent or less chance of conceiving on the first try – and the mental anguish were too much. We stopped there.
The blog posts got fewer and far between. I couldn’t bear talking to Letterbaby any more our of sheer heartache. The blog ends three year’s after it started on July 7, 2016. “Infertility is the hardest thing I’ve even had to deal with in my life. That struggle is over, but the pain will last a lifetime.”
It took months before the IUI hormones were out of my system. But one day, I felt like a new person. I could talk about things without crying, my head seemed clear, my heart felt lighter. Adam broached the subject of adoption. Was it still an option? Adoption was something we’d talked about since the very beginning, but not put serious thought to. There, in that moment, driving down Chestnut Expressway, it hit me: It wasn’t that we would never meet Letterbaby, it was just that he hadn’t found us yet. It was like a weight had been lifted. Letterbaby would find us.
From that moment on, I felt truly alive again. Every step we’ve taken in this adoption process has felt right, more right than any doctor’s appointment, frozen vial or plastic test we ever did. We were meant to adopt a baby. Yes, it’s dumb I have to have a letter from my vet saying Chuck isn’t vicious, but every piece of paper filled out, interview taken and background check run are just markers on the roadmap for Letterbaby to find us.
We’ve completed the home study process and officially are on the waitlist for expecting mothers – now the hard part starts: we just wait. Letterbaby will find us, it’s our job to be prepared when he gets here and that’s why we’ve started this GoFundMe page. Adoption isn’t cheap and while we have some left in our savings, it’s not nearly enough. We need help and we’re asking you: our friends and family to help bring Letterbaby home.
Through it all, we never lost hope. We cursed it, we clung to it, we abandoned it and we hated it, but we never lost it. Hope guides us and it will guide Letterbaby home.
- Christopher Truscott
- Crystal Ivy
- John Jennings
- Lauren Lipscomb
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