A new blog. A blank page. Where to start?
My life is ordinary in so many ways. Grew up in a loving Christian family, went to Christian schools, stayed the path (for the most part – but we won’t go into THOSE stories). After finishing college with a journalism degree, I married Jonathan, the handsome red-headed boy I’d been dating since my senior year of high school.
We moved to the Nashville area, found jobs, bought a house in the suburbs. I worked in PR for a healthcare company, he eventually founded a technology start-up with a business partner. The life plan was chugging along. But then… Then came that first dash of the unexpected.
Jon and I both very much wanted a family, and about four years into our marriage decided it was time. Biology said otherwise. Many, many long months and several doctors later, it was clear we would not have a family without availing ourselves of all reproductive science had to offer. Thankfully, we live in a time when science does offer options to people like us. For a small fee, of course.
The process was not an easy one. Our first in vitro cycle brought the dubious gift of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which left me very sick, bloated, short of breath and unable to walk even to the end of the driveway. I required a tap to drain the fluid that had built up in my abdomen. OHSS also meant we would have to freeze the resulting embryos for a later cycle rather than transferring fresh embryos as planned. The follow-up frozen transfer cycle happened in January of 2009, and we found out the day before my 30th birthday that it had been unsuccessful.
To shorten a long story, we ultimately decided to travel to a well-respected out-of-state clinic with a shared risk program that would provide a full refund if we were unable to bring home a healthy baby. It meant three weeks living out of a hotel and a financial investment that still makes my head ache. But nine months later, we were holding our miracle: Corin William Sharp, born March 18, 2010. He was worth every moment and every dollar.
It’s been 26 months since the day we became parents. Corin is a talking, running, climbing toddler who fills our days with more joy (and greater challenges) than we could have imagined. Parenthood has been everything we hoped and imagined and so much more.
Thus we found ourselves not too long ago beginning the conversation we had known was coming. From the day of our successful IVF transfer, when the doctor told us it was unlikely any of our other embryos would survive to freezing, we knew there would be difficult decisions ahead. And so late last year, we started talking about The Next Child.
We had not taken the decision to proceed with IVF lightly the first time. This time, it required total reevaluation. We knew what that investment required, financially, emotionally and physically. I quit my job in January 2011 to take care of Corin full-time, which left little room for the financial investment IVF would require. And emotionally and physically, I wasn’t sure I was interested in restarting the arduous medical process. I knew Jon was disappointed with surrendering the pregnancy and childbirth experience, but we began researching adoption. The up-front cost was as much or greater than IVF, but the sizable adoption tax credit left us with hope we could finance the initial expense through short-term loans. But we continued to wrestle with our fears and doubts. Were we really ready to let go of the pregnancy and childbirth experiences and embrace the factors of adoption that would be outside our control? We were sending a lot of prayers heavenward, for guidance and for peace. It wasn’t long into my research when Jon raised the question, “What about embryo adoption?” My knee-jerk reaction was, “No. Too weird.”
We’d come across embryo adoption several years earlier, during an informational class on adoption. We knew the basics: Couples who, like us, had gone through IVF and had completed their families might have embryos left in storage. They could choose to donate those embryos to an infertile couple. The medical process was exactly the same as a normal (is there any such thing in reproductive science?!) frozen embryo transfer, which we had experienced before and knew was much simpler than a full IVF cycle. But other than those basic outlines, we knew very little.
A conversation with a girlfriend got me thinking. She asked how the cost compared to traditional adoption. I didn’t know, and I realized this thing might be worth a little more research. A phone call to our local Bethany Christian Services office, and suddenly, the idea was growing legs.
I’ll talk more soon about the details of our experience and where we are now. Our story is really just beginning to unfold. I’ve thought often about starting a public blog, but I’ve never been sure exactly what I wanted to offer. The blogosphere is plenty crowded, and I don’t want this to descend into narcissism. Ultimately, this story is about so much more than me. It’s about learning to really trust a God of love who holds me in the palm of His hand. It’s about learning to live in the present, to see the beauty of the now. It’s about the humbling generosity of others. It’s about embracing the unexpected, about the joy of the imperfectly real versus the expected ideal. That’s what I intend to share here.