|Tiffany and her mom|
*written by Tiffany and originally appeared as a guest blog post
My mom is very close to the Spirit. She receives inspiration constantly to help her children. So when I was 14 and she felt like she should take me to the doctor, she did.
You see, I hadn’t started menstruating yet and she was worried about me. The doctor performed a basic physical on me and said that I was indeed developing; I was just slow. So we left the doctor’s office and I didn’t think much of it. I was slow. Just like it had taken longer for me to get my molars than my sister who was two years my junior. Just like I was short for my age. I was simply slower and smaller. That didn’t bother me.
Then I turned 16. I still hadn’t started my period. So my mom took me back to the doctor. I had a lot of blood tests done. I found out then that my brain was telling my body to menstruate, but for some reason my body wasn’t responding. They said that I would have to be on birth control to have a cycle at all and to have the important hormones that make me “normal” and help strengthen my bones.
So I took birth control. I knew that this would impact my having kids one day, but I didn’t think about it much. My mom wanted to protect me and told the doctor not to explain the full implications of my condition.
I remember one time my sister complained about her cramps and how she just hated having a period. I felt anger, sadness and frustration rush over me. At least you have a period, I wanted to yell at her. At least you’re normal. I’m not even a woman.
Life continued on. I didn’t think about my condition much; I didn’t have to.
|Tiffany and her sister|
After my freshman year of college, I visited a reproductive specialist. It was then that I was told what my condition was and what it meant. I had Premature Ovarian Failure, which means that I have no eggs.
Basically, my body is like a woman in menopause. Without hormone therapy, I would have no period. I would not sleep well. I would, however, have hot flashes. The doctor performed an internal ultrasound and said I did in fact have ovaries and that everything looked good and normal. He said that I could physically carry a baby, but would have to have donor eggs. I remember thinking that sounded very unnatural to me—somewhat Frankenstein-ish. I was a little overwhelmed with it all and not sure how to process the news.
After we got home from that appointment, I remember sitting on my parents’ bed next to my mom. She expressed her love and sadness that I had to experience this trial in my life. We cried together. I think she cried more than me. She said that she knew there was a reason I would have to go through it. I had faith she was right.
The next few years I was still on a road of accepting my condition. I would have natural thoughts, similar to any other young woman. I would date a boy and think, We would have good-looking children if we got married! Then I would remember. Wait, I can’t have children.
It was a stinging reality that I didn’t have to face too often. When it did come up, I felt such heartache. I felt useless. I felt like I wasn’t a real woman. Women are supposed to be able to create children. That’s our main role in this life. And I wasn’t capable. I cried, not sure what was so upsetting, but just feeling helpless and like I had lost something. How would my future spouse feel about it? Would he be okay that I couldn’t contribute in that way?
|Want and Tiffany while we were dating|
Luckily for me, I am so blessed to have an understanding and amazing husband who, even before I told him about my condition, expressed the desire to one day adopt. He had grown to love the little kids around him as he served his mission in the Dominican Republic and knew that he could love an adopted child as his own. (Talk about a tender mercy! God does know us and what we need.)
The first year of marriage was really hard for me. We were in a ward that had many young couples, and some had babies and toddlers. I would see these families at church and just be reminded of my weakness. Frustration and sadness would come over me on and off as I dealt with the reality that even if we were ready to start our family, we couldn’t.
I talked to my sister one time about it. She asked me if I would really want kids that soon; after all, we had only been married six months or so. I reminded her that I had done a study abroad to Mexico, I had served a mission and was nearing college graduation. I was 24 and ready for that next step.
I longed to have the joy that comes from children. I was ready. And there was nothing I could do about it.
I had inspiration to go see a doctor at BYU. He told me he had known some girls with my condition who apparently had one or two eggs and ended up getting pregnant. He told me he didn’t want to get my hopes up because there was such a slight chance I had any eggs. But if he could get me to ovulate and pass one egg, I probably had another. There was a chance they could do In Vitro fertilization to help me become pregnant.
So I bought a thermometer, took the drugs the doctor gave me, and started tracking my temperature every morning when I got up. I tried not to get too hopeful about it all, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted so badly to be able to experience growing a baby in the womb. To feel the baby kick. To fulfill my role as a woman in that way. So when this little test didn’t work and the conclusion was that I had no eggs, I cried.
At one point, I was feeling sick in the mornings and wondered if by some miracle I was pregnant. I felt a little silly buying a pregnancy test from Walmart. I knew deep down I wasn’t pregnant. But I also hoped I was. Of course it ended up being negative. I wouldn’t be able to ever have the experience of that little stick showing me I was pregnant. I cried again.
The next year or so I worked hard, preparing myself for the day when we could start the adoption process. Because we were going to do it through LDS Family Services, we had to be married two years. I tried to enjoy the time and not just wait for our two-year mark, but again I couldn’t help it. I love children. I’m the oldest of four. I have always enjoyed babysitting. I love watching kids learn. I love learning from them—seeing their innocence and perfect faith. Sometimes I would still get emotional watching kids at church. I would feel joy observing them and then almost immediately feel sadness because I wanted that so badly but couldn’t have it.
|Enjoying a nice meal in Hawaii|
For the past six months or so, I have felt so grateful for the time my husband and I have had to grow closer together. It’s been nice to be selfish and just randomly take a trip to Idaho, or go see a movie. I recognize that we’re getting to do things as a married couple with no kids that we may take for granted. I am trying to enjoy the journey and process rather than dwell on what I don’t have. And I am happier.
Now we’re close to being approved to adopt and I’m looking forward to this new chapter in our lives. It’s still extremely frustrating that we don’t have control over timing, but I have faith it will all work out.
LDS Family Services has so many more families hoping to adopt than babies, so it takes an average of two and a half years of waiting until you get a baby. But it could be longer.
I still have my ups and downs with infertility. For the most part, I am okay with it all. But there are still moments when I grieve the loss of not having a child that will look like my husband and me, or the chance to be pregnant, or even the option to be. Our adoption case worker says it will always hurt a little because it is a real loss.
At least once we adopt, the longing for children will go away. And I’ve heard from others that you truly love your adopted kids as the same as your biological children. So I’m looking forward to that.
Any way you can spread the news that we're adopting would be helpful as we look for a sweet addition to our family.