By Choice?

Lennie and Monica holding hands in front of a brick wall.

If you haven’t already, make sure you go read my introduction to this childless life. If you’ve already read it, welcome back! Thank you for being here. Now, let’s get going.

I wanted to give just a little background before going further. I was pregnant for the first time in 2000 and then again in 2001. I was fresh into college in Florida and was dating an abusive man. Physically abusive. I didn’t realize the situation I was in until I’d already messed up a lot of relationships with friends and family. I was scared of getting out even though I had a family back home who would support me. They’d forgive me for my wrongdoings. One day, I’ll go into that story. The point is, these events happened nearly 20 years ago. For both hospitalizations, I was in Florida with my abusive partner and his family. While my family did come in, they weren’t able to be there when I was admitted. Also, both of the surgeries were emergency surgeries. When an ectopic pregnancy becomes too large, you can risk internal bleeding and death. If I’d waited, I literally could have died. That is a real possibility due to the size of the ectopic. 

I was a bit of a hypochondriac back then. I don’t take that word lightly. I spent so much time at the ER. I went monthly if not more. I don’t now why. I don’t know if it was related to the trauma of the abusive relationship. I don’t know if it was because I couldn’t afford a doctor because I didn’t have insurance. It reminds me a lot of the movie Signs where the kid would have glasses of water around the house. Later, that water became useful in defeating the enemy. My hospital visits are what saved my life. The pain I was in wasn’t the worst pain of my life. It was just present and uncomfortable. 

Now, to more of the story.

I got married in 2006 to a guy who was fresh in the military. He knew I would need medical intervention to get pregnant but was okay with that. We decided to pursue IVF in 2009 when we moved closer to family. It seemed like the perfect time. We had just purchased a home and could rely on family to help with the pregnancy and our future children. I found a program at Walter Reed that would offer fertility treatments for a much nicer price than the private practices around. I contacted them and got right in. 

Lennie at the grill and my dad in the background. Family barbecues happened often.

There’s a whole battery of tests that have to be done when you’re getting ready for fertility treatments but we were up to the task. The doctors had to make sure I was in a good place to produce eggs and carry a child. They also needed to make sure my husband would be able to offer a sample so that they could create embryos. They do genetic testing to look for certain markers and there’s just so much blood work. I had to have a saline sonogram to check my uterus and so many invasive procedures. I also had to start taking birth control pills. Seems silly to be taking them since I couldn’t get pregnant anyway but it helps to control ovulation. I remember being so excited to finally start on this. Then I got the call.

I remember her name. Dori. Like the fish. She was great throughout the entire process. She was excited to help us get started and was just so caring. When she called me that day, I thought she was just giving me an update on bloodwork. What she said was a blow I wasn’t ready for. There was no sperm in my husband’s sample. No sperm. How could this be? He’s fit. He’s young. He’s so masculine. Funny how none of that matters in the least bit. At that moment, my dream of motherhood was over. What are the odds that both of us would have an issue conceiving? Why was this happening to us?

We always knew we’d have to do IVF because I didn’t have any fallopian tubes. There was literally no way for the sperm and egg to meet and create an embryo. Now we were faced with the added problem of not even having sperm to work with. We met with a urologist to discuss our options. He told us that they could surgically extract sperm but they weren’t sure there was any sperm there to extract. He didn’t seem very optimistic about our chances. I remember leaving the office with more questions than I went in with. I just didn’t know what to ask or where to start. So much was thrown at us about this. I was heartbroken. It was over. Then my husband got accepted to OCS. That means he’d have to leave for 17 weeks of training and then we’d be moving. While OCS was great news, that left us no time to pursue fertility treatments. How would I ever be a mother? How would we ever be parents? I was lost. I was confused. I was heartbroken.

So, what about adoption? 

We have considered adoption. Honestly, life got really busy after my husband graduated from OCS. He was on ship after ship and away for months at a time and also had short two year tours of duty. Also, adoption can be expensive. It can cost more than IVF! There are also so many requirements to meet. The home study was the biggest issue for us. How can we get a home study that lasts if we move every 2 years? I don’t know how military families do this. I know most people stay longer at a duty station than we have so that’s a definite difference. We considered fostering as well but that proved even harder. Later, I found out that there are other ways to adopt. For example, a church member’s child is pregnant and doesn’t know what to do. That’s where we’d step in. A friend of mine who adopted told me she just made posts on Facebook letting people know they were looking to adopt. A family that was in need contacted them and voila…adoption.

In reality, I just really want to carry a baby. Our journey wasn’t over though. It would just take a bit more time to continue it.

Love always, Monica

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  1. Monica, you are and always have been such a bright light. Thank you for sharing your story. I would love to reconnect if you have time to chat. X

  2. Beautiful pic! Wow, thank you for your courage to share your story. It’s heartbreaking and touching all at the same time if that makes sense. Grateful being allowed in your sharing. 💜

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