I must begin my story with a bit of a disclaimer. I find myself at this particular crossroads under the most unique of circumstances. For almost two years now, I have been a part of the heartbreaking yet unbelievably inspiring world of infertility. However, I did not reach this place wearing the same badges of bravery and resilience that virtually every other woman on this journey has earned.
I officially entered the wonderful world of motherhood at the tender age of 19. I was one of those "irresponsible teenagers" that I've heard infertile mothers curse time and time again for their ability to so easily conceive while their repeated prayers and attempts continued to be in vain. For what it's worth, and I realize it may not be much, I have at times suffered feelings of tremendous guilt for that very reason. Why me? Why should I have been able to get pregnant so easily at a time in my life when I was completely unprepared for motherhood? When there were countless women out there who wanted and deserved it so very much more? I also understand that this could lead to the inevitable question of why I didn't then consider adoption, therefore helping to fulfill one of these women's dreams. I have no easy answer. All I knew was whether we planned it or not, whether I was ready or not, this baby was coming. And I was going to be her mommy.
My beautiful, chubby little angel arrived in the spring of 1992, and was followed a year and a half later by my precious little peanut. Two years after that my sweet little princess arrived, and finally my handsome little man arrived on a cold January day in 2002. Four kids and ten years later, I was sure I was done having children, and had a tubal ligation. Chapter closed. Or so I thought.
As we all know too well, "life happens", and in 2006 I found myself a single mom. My primary focus remained, as always, my family. The last thing I was looking for was another relationship. Which, of course, is always when the opportunity seems to present itself. I met the man who would become my fiance and fell more deeply in love than I ever imagined possible. He was 11 years my junior, had never been married, and had no children of his own. After 2 years of being together, we were engaged. And as I was rapidly approaching the big 4-0, we decided that if we wanted to have a biological child together, there was no time like the present.
And so it was that Michelle~aka "Fertile Myrtle"~inexplicably entered the world of "infertility".
In the winter of 2009, we scheduled an appointment with an RE, and were quickly informed that my tubal ligation was in fact irreversible. IVF was our only opportunity to conceive. We followed a relatively standard protocol, and were blessed to produce a total of 13 follies. Seven of those 13 fertilized and made it to the day 5 blastocyst stage! We decided to transfer only one, as I'd proven to have no issues with fertility in my "previous life" and were therefore convinced that however many we transferred was how many we'd get! One tumultuous pregnancy later, our precious little pink miracle was born. I was head over heels in love once more, and truly felt as though my life was now complete.
Fast forward to July 2010. We received a letter in the mail from our clinic informing us that our 1 year storage fee for our remaning 6 frozen embryos was about to expire and we now had a decision to make. Our choices were: pay $400 to store them an additional year, "dispose of them", donate them for research, or donate them to an infertile couple. My fiance's immediate reaction? Donate them to an infertile couple. My immediate reaction? Fear and disbelief. Let's take these options and dissect them one by one. Pay to continue storing them? No logical reason to do so other than perhaps procrastination. We'd already decided our family was complete. Dispose of them? DISPOSE of them? One look at my sweet angel's face and this was not something I was even remotely willing to consider. Next? Research. Donate them for research. On the one hand, I felt very strongly about this option. I feel like there is so much good to be accomplished by such a courageous choice. Yet I also knew it was not a choice that I personally was willing or able to make.
And then there was one.
Several heartwrenching, soul searching days later I knew what needed to be done.
Tomorrow, I will continue the story of our amazing journey thus far. A journey that led me to a missing piece of my family that I never knew existed.