Am I “so happy with my choices?”

Waiting for a baby to come into our lives feels like Scheherazade praying her tales of magic and woe will be enough to postpone her eminent beheading. Instead of fighting for my life, we are fighting for “A life” to raise. Truly One Thousand and One nights of watching and waiting for our turn to be parents. Though in reality our number is nearly three times that number of nights.  

When I look back at the timeline of my life with Brent, I see mostly happy memories, which is what makes the waiting worth it. We are indeed luckier than many in the wedded bliss category. 

As a coping mechanism we still often quote Jen Barkley on the show Parks and Recreation, who in reference to children says “I’m so happy with my choices.” She repeatedly informs everyone she thinks children are “gross”, messy, noisy creatures and is glad she does not have any of her own. Although our “choices” for the last eight years add little to nothing to the reasons we do not have children; Infertility is the villain that, so far, chooses the no children route for us.

This update has been a long time coming. A reminder of the tenderness and agony I previously felt of our situation, further manifested in me back in November, in the form of the gratitude challenge given by President Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

As I scrolled through all of the hundreds of gratitude posts that overwhelmed my newsfeed. I saw your posts about your angel children, your wonderful spouses, the glories of nature and your excellent jobs that provide for your families. During a rather difficult year for the world the flood of positive was a welcome change, and yet I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sorrow. 

With Posts of “I’m grateful for this girl who made me a mama.” “I’m grateful all of those years ago when I became a mother and now I’m a grandmother.” “I’m grateful for my children.” I couldn’t help but turn off facebook for a while. 

In saying all this I don’t want anyone who reads this to feel that I am not overjoyed for you and your beautiful families. I am. I love that you received these wonderful blessings in your life. Babies are such a miracle, and the women who raise these children are such strong humans. 

Over the past seven years or more with every new baby announcement, 1st birthday, smash cake, baby milestone, growing family photo I try to be happy for the friend posting but I just turn into a puddle of tears and envy. 

I know all of you experience your own trials and hardships. I am not trying to downplay your hard, simply because it’s different from mine.  So, please don’t let my ramblings be off putting they are more meant to be taken just as a public service announcement to those not burdened with the struggle of infertility. Be gentle with us. I have always had a bias towards saying infertility, rainbow babies, losing a child, miscarriages are the hardest tests life deals out to women. 

Now more specific personal fertility struggles. 

If you are curious and made it to this point- here’s a timeline of our lives. 

I learned a couple of things from our timeline. First: 10 moves in eight years is far too many moves. Thankfully we purchased this time around, which means we hope to stay for a while longer before moving again. Second: We have gone on far too few world adventures. We have made a few trips to other places within the United States that didn’t make it on the short timeline. Third: There are far too many jobs cluttering our resumes. 

What the timeline also does not show is our attempts to start our family. In the summer of 2013 we newlyweds just figuring out our lives together. We were both in school at BYU and working. We decided it might be best to wait a while before throwing kids into schedules filled with time constraints as well as not yet being in a financially stable situation, so I took daily birth control for about 8 months of 2013. 

2014 and 2015 brought some fun health issues my way, which we believed I might include issues both of becoming pregnant and possibly carrying a baby full term. In May of 2015 I then had a laparoscopy for Endometriosis. During the procedure they found only a little scar tissue, but they did find some, along with some other gruesome things: not discussed in public. After that a lot of the chronic abdomen pain (from the previous 7 years), as well as unpredictable cycle issues subsided significantly. We thought maybe we could finally have children. But they never came. 

Life continued on: siblings and friends brought into life their first, second, third or even 4th children into the world. 

In January 2017 as Brent was preparing to graduate from BYU with a degree in Spanish Translation we again came to the conclusion it was time for children. I however was not graduating due to three major things: some of the medical issues above, working at a full time job most of this time, my nearly weekly breakdowns from so desperately wanting a baby.  But again they never came. 

We were working with a doctor at BYU who had helped many start their families. He suggested the FAZST (The Folic Acid & Zinc Supplementation Trial) for Brent. The study essentially studied the effects of the supplement on male fertility. Turns out this study was just what we needed to determine why we could not have children. The details are extremely personal, but the study ultimately told us Brent could not get me pregnant naturally. So, by April of 2017 we knew why they never came. 

Brent walked for graduation in April, then in June finished his last ever BYU course. He exclaimed to me the morning of his final exam “I am never shaving my face again”. In July he started an Internship at MediaLocate in Pacific Grove, California. Six weeks later I joined him just days prior to the start of his first of two semesters for his Master’s degree at Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, California in Translation and Localization Management. When we first saw Brent after six weeks apart Muffler and I almost didn’t recognize him with a now fully formed beard. We lived minutes from a beach and the famous, thanks to Finding Dory, Monterey aquarium. I did Instacart (grocery delivery), we were busy and happy. 

In December we flew home for a Texas Christmas. My sister Emily was just coming home from an 18 month mission to Brazil. We gathered with all sorts of family and friends throughout our wonderful 10 day visit. Though we did hear a few comments from old family friends asking about when we would FINALLY have children. With the sting of the FAZST study results still fairly fresh in our minds, we would brush these comments off with a laugh or retorts of “someday” and “we’re still happy just being the two of us”, or the above favorite “[We’re] so happy with my choices”. Then behind closed doors after we would go to bed each night I would cry myself to sleep.

January of 2018. I once again attempted to finish school at BYU. It was an insane time where I would fly into Utah for three to four days, or sometimes a couple weeks at a time before turning around to fly home for a weekend. Needless to say my attempted semester was unsuccessful. Distance learning is much easier these days. Brent Graduated from his Master’s program in May, then we subsequently both started new jobs in the California Bay area. Brent worked for a start up language service provider (LSP) in San Francisco. I worked as a leasing agent for an apartment in Santa Clara, where we rented a small 700 sq ft one bedroom apartment. 

In August, our new health insurance kicked in and we were back at fertility clinics to try to make a baby. By October we were ready to pull the trigger the moment Brent returned from a company business trip to Barcelona, Spain. However, upon his return we determined we needed to be closer to Brent’s job in San Francisco causing yet another move, this time to Foster City, California in November. The apartment was luxurious compared to our previous apartment. A huge kitchen, vaulted ceilings, full size washer and dryer, 850sqft. After we were settled in Foster City we started the process over again with a new doctor in San Mateo. We kept saying after the first of the year we would do an IUI. 

Though once again, timing didn’t seem to be right. January 2019 came and went. I was interviewing for and accepted a new job starting February 13, 2019 The company’s maternity policy, like most, required someone to work a year to qualify for receiving paid maternity leave, consequently we again decided to wait. Mostly because California is too expensive to live on one income for a couple with lots of debt and no savings. The weekend before I started my new job we moved about 5 miles to a new apartment in San Mateo. Many around us frequently told us we were lucky to be DINKS (Dual income no kids). I did not feel very lucky. 

2019 was a hard year for us both emotionally and financially. Brent was out of work for about 4 months of the year. Muffler slipped a disk in his back causing him to need major back surgery, in order to retain the use of his back legs ($11K out of pocket). We argued a lot about money, or lack thereof, and also my feelings that children would NEVER come into our lives. Our marriage suffered a lot that year, but we somehow made it to the other side stronger.  Brent got a new job in August of 2019 working for Linkedin on a 6 month contract, and then another new full time job starting in March of 2020. 

When you’ve been given more of a choice as to when to have children, life gets away from you, and you end up put off having them, or you consciously decide the timing is never right logistically to bring a child into this crazy world. 

Now to 2020! I know this is controversial to say, but our 2020 was actually pretty good on a lot of levels. I do not say this to brag, more as a sigh of relief for us after just how hard 2019 was for us. Brent and I both held stable jobs through all of 2020. We stayed healthy. We paid off our car (purchased in July of 2018), all of our non-student loan debt, including Muffler’s surgery. We established an amazing library of both old and new books (this was our quarantine hobby for much of the year). Saved some money. Visited family in Washington, and just before the close of the year bought a house. 

Back in November, Brent got a new job in Utah, and we miraculously – in the current housing craze – found and purchased a home back in Utah. I quit my job and on the 31st of December we drove home to Utah. 

Once again starting over after 8 years at a new fertility Center here in Utah was a bit discouraging. Thankfully though this time around we seemed to glide quickly through the preliminary tests, questionnaires and required new client appointments. Rather than forcing us to jump through the same hoops as usual, they pushed us right through to the end. Now two and a half months into the year all the tests are done, normal and everything is ready. So, in the next couple of months we will do our first IUI and with many prayers, fingers crossed and God willing I will be pregnant by summer solstice 2021. 

Infertility: (n.) inability to conceive children or young. 

Timeline: (n.) a graphic representation of the passage of time as a line. A chronological 

arrangement of events in the order of their occurrence. 

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