Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In The Beginning

April 2005:

I was 24 years old and had been married for about three years. My period was due the next day but I wasn’t feeling the usual symptoms. As I Googled “early pregnancy symptoms,” I smiled an only-slightly nervous smile. We weren’t trying, but having a child had been on my mind for about six months. I had been snooping around the baby sections online and in stores, ogling cribs and tiny clothes.

My search pulled up the usual results, and sure enough, many of the symptoms listed matched how I was feeling. Maybe this was it! Getting excited, I tried other term combinations. Then I noticed one particular result. A blog? Curious, I clicked through and what I read at A Little Pregnant changed me.

Infertile? IVF? I had heard these words before but hadn’t dwelled on them. I read a few posts and learned that Julie’s son was born prematurely at 30 weeks gestation, after her fourth round of in-vitro fertilization. I read about her struggle to become, and stay, pregnant. I scanned medication names like Lupron, Repronex, and Follistim, not quite understanding what each was supposed to accomplish (besides a baby).

As I read through Julie’s archives, I was struck again and again by her writing style, humor, and honesty. Who was this woman? And who are all of these people that left comments on her blog? Were they all going through what she had gone through?

Blogrolls and commenters lead me to other sites. I found Karen at “The Naked Ovary”  (now Momstrous), Julia at “Here be Hippogriffs,” Cecily at “and I wasted all that birth control” (now Uppercasewoman). Each one had a story to tell about their infertility and journey to parenthood.

I started to feel sick. Not from morning sickness, but from guilt. I had found a community that I didn’t know existed while blissfully researching a potential “OOPS!” pregnancy.

Eight months later, Little K was born. I kept reading the blogs. Some turned into parenting blogs, some continued trying for a child. I read along, celebrating with joys and crying for disappointments, and prayed.

I wanted to help but didn’t know how.

Eventually Julie cycled again, this time with donor eggs. That caught my attention! I started researching and asking questions. I looked for other bloggers pursuing similar treatment. Maybe this was it?

After more prayer, soul searching, and research, I reached out to my local Center for Reproductive Medicine. I completed the initial application and waited for their response. Several months later I was invited in for a physical, ultrasound, and blood work. I was asked to report to an office down the street for a psychological evaluation. A few weeks later, CRM contacted me to let me know I passed the screenings and was now a donor in their program.

It took another year after that to be selected by a recipient. Throughout the process, I watched Little K grow from a baby into a rambunctious toddler. By the time my first donation was complete, Little K was almost four years old. Cuddling with my girl after recovery was so sweet; I couldn’t help thinking about my recipient and hoping that she would have the same opportunity to cuddle with her child next year.

I know next to nothing about the women who receive my eggs. Given the information shared on my donor profile, I can make an educated guess as to their features, complexion, descent, and hobbies. I do not know if they are married or single, gay or straight, young or old, Christian or not.

Each time I take part in a donation, I pray for the recipient(s). That she will become pregnant and be able to carry the child to term. That she has opened her heart to a child that is not genetically related to her. And that if she is in a relationship, it is loving and will hold together through the strain of having a child.

I know that my mother prays, too, for the child to be born into a Christian family and experience salvation. I mostly pray for the child to grow up happy, with the knowledge that its parent(s) loved it so much that they did everything in their power to create this new life.

The men and women who pursue treatment love their child before it is created: this is the story behind infertility. (That sounds familiar.)

What greater gift can children receive than to know they are wanted?

To know they are loved.

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