A few weeks before my husband and I got married I kickstarted contraception (yup, that way round), in preparation for a kid-free couple of years. I was 27, he was 30 and we had known each other for just over a year. The concept of children seemed fun but also futuristic. We hadn’t decided if we wanted 2 or 10, but that was future Mike and Ange’s decision… right then our world involved, sleeping in, hanging onto each other up escalators for our weekly sushi and movie night, learning to cook meals, testing those meals on friends, going to church, building our careers, killing our mortgage, hiding ‘SHMILY’ notes (See How Much I Love You), quietly gloating at how happy we made each other and planning some galavants around the globe. You could say that we were really enjoying our ever-so-slightly self indulgent cocoon.
Then some friends started nudging and buying us baby clothes with the cheeky intention of bringing forward our futuristic kid plan. Unbeknownst to them this triggered a reverse psychology on the clichéd ‘start trying at the two year mark’ and we secretly threw contraception to the wind. BUT have you ever tried keeping a ’secret’ like this for over a year? It gets less fun with each month… and at some point you pack away the baby booties (to be unwrapped at the next family gathering followed with shrieks of ‘SURPRISE’)… and you book that doctors appointment.
And there WE were, (because WE are ONE) in a new acquaintance category with 1 in 6 couples battling through infertility, except at that time we were the only ones we knew of (or maybe I hadn’t paid as much attention)…. but what I did definitely know is that our world had changed forever and I would never need to take another contraceptive pill again in my life! Also we didn’t need to decide on how many children we would have. The thought of our freestyle planning suddenly felt quite naive…. and yet, what is life without hopes and dreams? Hope is being able to hear the melody (or pitter patter) of the future. So how do we handle the loss or death of a dream or desire so big? It’s a strange thing because suddenly I wanted quadruplets NOW and I didn’t care whether they were all one gender…. actually just 1 child would be quite perfect. And that right there was one of the first areas that we needed to work through: Coming to terms with the fact that we didn’t willingly lay this planned dream down, it was painfully snatched from us but over the coming months and years, we realised that one of the ways of healthily moving forward was to do just that – to LAY DOWN and LET GO of the human desire to desperately control the situation. I think we took that quite literally as we went the route of ‘wait, pray and literally do nothing else for 5 or so years…. otherwise known as an eternity! Well thats what it looked like to the general public but those close, knew that we were active in our faith and that we were processing, growing and holding onto the truth that our lives had a plan – with or without children. Receiving a definitive diagnosis is one thing but processing and walking it out is where it gets real. Time isn’t a healing balm in this instance, it can prove to be more of an ever-growing sharp reminder as manoeuvres are made around baby showers, and friends tummies magically grow. For the third time!
I realise that time is not always on everyones side, but I do think it is EXTREMELY important to have an understanding of all the options laid before you. Because there are always options. Not having children, being one of them. Going through fertility treatment successfully and potentially having to make decisions around remaining unused embryos, being another on the opposite end. And then there’s adoption – what does this entail down the road, around that sky-high paperwork corner…?
When we received our initial crushing diagnosis we had an instant sense that our path wouldn’t be conventional and although that felt excruciating in some ways, it also felt safe because I believe that directional sense came from my Maker, the one who knows. We personally chose to not pursue any fertility treatments as tempting as that option felt at times and we somehow managed to hold that line and send those ”just do this (aka “just relax“) and that will happen” down into their dedicated parking spot, in Timbuktu. And we waited. And watched. Turns out there are many walking this same road out there – yes, ONE IN SIX. You find them and they find you. Deep friendships were birthed through this connection and so, on even a human level we were definitely not walking alone. Whilst it was truly powerful and comforting to hear the similar stories and happy endings of others, I often felt more inspiration and solace from observing those who had journeyed through and past, without children…. and to see that they were still smiling. I’d watch them living full lives and having a hearty laugh from afar and I knew that there was life on the other side of – what at the time seemed to be – the least favourable outcome. I still feel like I need to let them know… they don’t know what an inspiration they have been, probably to more than just me.
Why was this our road? Well it was simply because of our son and daughter! The already created ones that we were always meant to raise, love, nurture and parent. I’m not sure we would ever have created such cute ones or found our passion and route to adoption (or them) if we had flexed our own mini controlling muscles. It was also because we obviously needed greater reserves of empathy, depth and faith….. as well as sleep, escalator cuddles and date nights… since we currently get close to zero of those 🙂
Our daughter arrived in our arms as a newborn, only months after completing our final paperwork and with only a couple hours notice and our son grew in my tummy after we received him at embryonic stage – affectionately known as a “snowflake baby”. It seems like 2 was our number after all! Not 10… or none! And that feels pretty perfect because we gained way more than we could ever have imagined. Little did we know how very un-clichéd our story would actually be 🙂