My husband, Mark, and I naively thought we would plan the conception of our baby for Valentine’s weekend. What a great story to tell our kiddo, right? Not so fast. Flash forward 4 years, multiple procedures and IVF attempts, and a tubal pregnancy later and we still had not fulfilled our dream of starting a family. Our infertility was “unexplained” our doctor told us, but at 31, I had a theory. I had endured a burst appendix when I was 12 and multiple laparoscopies had revealed scar tissue inside my abdomen, as well as a hole all the way through my peritoneum. My theory was that the environment inside my fallopian tubes was more like a petrified forest than the gently waving sea anemone inhabiting a coral reef. Hence the tubal pregnancy and removal of my left tube after many attempts to save it.
After I got the phone call about the failure of our frozen IVF cycle, something clicked inside me. I was done with fertility treatment and done with negative pregnancy tests. My husband and I no longer cared about perpetuating our DNA. We just wanted to be parents. Domestic adoption seemed a better and more certain path.
Despite warnings of a long wait, we were matched with birth parents within 3 months and our daughter was born a few months after that. We brought her home from the hospital and had no doubt that she was ours. A couple years later we were matched with another birth mother and brought another daughter home. We were overjoyed to be parenting two delightful girls.
When Lainey was 3 years old and Faith was 1, we started discussing growing our family again. Not coincidentally, a friend whom I sang with at church approached me one day and offered to carry a baby for us. We were thrilled, but doubtful that Johnna would agree to be a gestational carrier once she learned about all of the medical and legal hoops she would have to jump through. Despite our doubts, Johnna never wavered. I went through egg retrieval and Johnna went through embryo transfer in May and we had a positive pregnancy test just a few weeks later. Our biological son was born in February 2007, 10 years to the day from when we’d started “trying”.
Mark and I were never certain that either of our adoptions or our gestational carrier plan would result in a baby. We just kept putting one foot in front of the other, hoping and praying for the best. Now I can say that I wouldn’t have it any other way. All three of our children are exactly that: ours. After struggling through 10 years of infertility, I can honestly say that the heartache was worth the wait.
I had always wanted a fourth child (a nice even number, right?), but Mark said 3 was absolutely enough. Mark does, however, allow me to fulfill my mama’s heart by hosting exchange students. We are hosting our fourth exchange student, Alessandro from Italy, this year. Despite the messages we hear from our culture about the importance of biology and pregnancy, there are lots of ways to fulfill one’s desire to be a parent. My husband and I are fiercely blessed to have discovered this truth and to have three women who helped us get there.
Find Sarah here: