It was a Sunday, early evening in July. I remember it very vividly. We had company at our house and I noticed the caller ID flashed across the TV as the phone rang. It was my doctor calling from his home. I snuck into the bedroom and answered it. I was scheduled for surgery early the next morning and I thought maybe he wanted to visit with me about that, but to be calling me from his home on a Sunday would be going way above and beyond what any doctor would have to do if he wanted to visit with me about the surgery. I answered it and in his calm voice he said: “Hi Erin. It’s Dr. Z.” It was the name he had given himself since his actual name was way more complicated to say than spell. I sat calmly on my bed and listened as he told me he had test results he wanted to give me because it may change my mind for the surgery I was to have the next morning.
See, my husband and I had been trying to conceive for over two years. I had never been pregnant, and I was scheduled for surgery the next morning to remove some endometriosis and to ensure my tubes were open. A few days before surgery Dr. Z had recommended my husband get tested as well since 1 in 4 cases of infertility are male-factor infertility. I was sure the problems were with me, and I remember lying on the table during one of my many appointments while I prayed to God that if we were going to have to fight the battle of infertility, make the battle mine. I didn’t want my husband to feel that he was bearing that burden. As further tests would show, both of us had some significant health problems that were going to prevent us from ever conceiving. I was diagnosed early on in our testing with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis. My husband was diagnosed with Azoospermia, something that only 1% of the male population in the world has, and it means he has no sperm. Dr. Z knew that telling me the results may change my mind about surgery, since ultimately I was having surgery to ensure I would get pregnant. I told him I needed sometime to think, but to cancel my appointment for the following morning. I said we would be in touch. He apologized over and over and he just said “I’m so sorry Erin. I know how much this meant to you, but know that I’m going to pray for you both.” I had a brief flashback to him walking out of the office on one of my appointments and him tapping my shoulder and he said: “Don’t worry, we’ll get you pregnant.” I remember feeling devastated at the time, but then my thoughts shifted to my husband. How was I ever going to tell him? I walked back to the couch and sat down and just started crying. I told him what the doctor told me and we sat and cried. We were officially infertile. We would never conceive. Ever.
It was a blow! How do you handle that? All my life I thought you grow up, date, get married, have children. Now I needed to reroute my thinking…grow up, date, get married…now what? The day after we got the phone call we went to the library. I remember still feeling angry, but in a sense I was empowered to learn as much as I could about adoption. We wanted children and felt that God wanted our family to grow. We were blessed that adoption had been on our hearts years before our infertility diagnosis. We were waiting for God to tell us the right time to move forward with it. I went home and researched. We took about ten months off to just focus on our marriage. Anyone who has dealt with infertility understands the toll that it can take on a marriage. It is stressful, frustrating, and painful — spiritually, physically, and emotionally draining.
Infertility is many times a silent battle. When we were going through our struggles no one knew about it except my husband and I. No one even knew about my scheduled surgery. We had kept it to ourselves like many couples do. It’s a battle that requires a lot of patience, love, and understanding by family and friends. But know that if you suffer from it, really you are not alone. One in ten couples suffer from some form of infertility. My recommendation to every couple is to communicate about your feelings with each other. Talk through it, pray through it, and educate yourself through it — and then educate your family and friends. No one wants to continuously hear “When are you having kids?” Especially when you have been trying for months or years already. If, on the other hand, you have been blessed with children and were able to conceive easily, that is a true blessing! Embrace and appreciate it! Please soften your heart to those around you who may not be blessed with that same ability. I have told many people that I have been blessed with an acceptance of infertility. It’s not a curse to me. I have come full circle, and I look at it as a blessing. I have two beautiful children through the miracle of adoption and we open our homes to children through foster care. This is a blessing to us! We know that this wouldn’t have been as easy for us to bear if God hadn’t blessed us with infertility! So be open to all of life’s blessings, even if they are painful! Sometimes the greatest gifts come in the most unwanted packages.
October in the Midwest brings cooler weather, football, and some of the most beautiful drives through fire-tinged foliage I’ve ever seen. It also brings the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. I am one of a very small minority of women in my group of friends who has not