For Mother’s Day my husband and daughter treated me to a wonderful dinner at one of my favorite Italian restaurants. My daughter who is six years old still needs to be reminded to use her utensils and not her fingers and to sit properly in her chair from time to time. In other words, she needs to be reminded to use her restaurant manners. So, upon leaving the restaurant after our meal, we couldn’t help but beam with pride when a woman at a neighboring table complimented my daughter for her excellent table manners and her behavior in general. Then it happened. Totally out of left field the woman asked if we were my daughter’s parents or grandparents. Excuse me?!
Notice that she didn’t ask if we are my daughter’s “real” parents, a question that many adoptive parents are asked. Since the three of us are Caucasian and some have said our daughter resembles me, there was probably nothing about our appearance that would have provoked that question. However, I’m almost certain that our age is what prompted the woman to ask us of which generation we belong. Neither my husband nor I can claim the physique of a twenty something, nor of a thirty something. At the time of my daughter’s birth and adoption my husband was 39 and I was 44 years old. Now at 50 I dye my hair with regularity in an attempt to keep the gray from showing through. Yep, we’re members of the older parent club.
Back when I was a young professional I thought I could have it all. As a smart single woman I focused on my career and did well. Eventually in my mid thirties I thought it might be time to focus on meeting Mr. Right and getting married. When my husband and I were first married we agreed that we would work hard, retire early, do some traveling and live a wonderful life with our wonderful pets. Never were children in the cards. We didn’t see ourselves as the parenting types. We had a plan.
Fast forward to my early forties. Tick tock. Tick Tock. Tick tock. Yep, I heard the clock ticking. What at first was a casual interest in the idea of kids eventually became a yearning. I tried to shake it. After all, we had planned out our lives and it didn’t include children. Another year passed and that yearning persisted. Finally I shared what I had been withholding from my husband. To say he was surprised was an understatement. We talked it out in great detail and agreed to go for it. So much for our plan and our retirement.
After 8 months of trying to get pregnant we contacted an infertility specialist. The problem it turned out had an easy fix, and we got pregnant soon after! We were excited. Joyful. Thrilled! The weird thing was that I never felt pregnant. I was not nauseous. My breasts did not swell or ache. I thought this would be an easy pregnancy but my doctor was concerned. At 9 weeks, he let us know that the possibility of a successful pregnancy was nearly nil. I cried. I was heart broken. Yet being the person I am and feeling somewhat numb, a couple of days later I proceeded with my promise to host a party at our home. No one knew that I was scheduled for a 6:30 am appointment at the hospital the next morning let alone that I was pregnant.
7 months later I was pregnant again. I had all the right symptoms. The blood work looked great and we saw our baby’s heartbeat. My husband, the doctor and I were thrilled. This time everything was going to be fine. But it wasn’t. Our baby was not meant to survive. She didn’t make it past the 11th week of pregnancy. She had Downs Syndrome. Our hearts tore into a million tiny pieces. I cried. I sobbed. I wailed. I screamed. Why? Why? WHY?????????????? My husband held me as I let it out. It took 6 weeks before I could get through the day without tears. I was still deeply saddened, but I had no more tears left. I was empty. Now what do we do?
We spent the next year trying to answer that question and more. I recalled the times when I was in the prime of my child bearing years terrified that I had become unexpectedly pregnant even though I dutifully took my birth control pills. My fears were always unfounded. Now at the time of my life when I was ready and wanted with all of my being to have a child, why couldn’t I? Sure, our doctor told us we could try again and possibly have success; however, he told us the odds were against us. As he bluntly put it, “You have old eggs.” How I hated those words.
Then after much soul searching, reading, and researching we decided our path to parenthood was through adoption. As everyone who has pursued adoption knows, the process and wait can be so difficult to endure but so worth it in the end.
Sure, I may not have the energy or physique I once had. I don’t have the profession I once had either. My life has changed course in so many ways since I joined the ranks of motherhood and I can honestly say I have never looked back. As for the woman who wondered if my husband and I are my daughters’ parents or grandparents, I forgive her for her transgression.
There are some wonderful resources available for women experiencing infertility and miscarriage.
Photo Credit: Lilli