Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Country Music, Infertility, and Adoption

I have a love-hate relationship with country music.  I go through phases when I love it (I took my best friends to a country concert for my 14th birthday party), and I have phases when I think it is the corniest thing in the world.

In my opinion, the key characteristic of country music that makes it both awesome and ridiculous is that most songs tell a story.  Each verse builds and adds another layer to the singer's story.  Some of those stories are over-the-top, while some of those stories are truly touching (at least when you're in a certain mood).

Sometimes I feel like my life is a country song, with different yet related moments, some of them decades apart, stacking on top of each other to tell my story.

I remember the first time I found out that it would be difficult for me to get pregnant.  I was about 17.  My OBGYN had run all sorts of tests and scans, and he sat down with me and my mom to tell us the results.   He was a kind, elderly gentleman, and he looked me in the eyes when he told me the name of my condition.  Then he continued: "This doesn't necessarily mean that you will never be able to get pregnant; it just means that it will take some work and some time."

Even at 17, I knew that would be hard.

And so, as a teenager, I started thinking about adoption.  I decided that I never wanted to sit around feeling sad and sorry if I couldn't have a baby--because lots of kids in the world need parents.  I also decided that adoption would never be my last resort because I didn't want my adopted child to think, "Mom and Dad tried everything to get their own child, and after years and years of heartache and desperation, they gave up and decided to settle on me."  (Now, of course that's not how adoptive parents actually feel about their babies, but it's something I thought about as a teen.)

Fast forward ten years, and, as my OBGYN once predicted, it is indeed taking time and work for me to get pregnant.  And as I myself predicted, it is sometimes very hard.  Will I one day get pregnant and have a baby?  I certainly hope so.  But I have no guarantees (I guess no one does) and after a year of seeing a fertility specialist, I am trying not to sit around feeling sorry for myself.  I am doing what I can to open every door for God to bless us with a baby--including applying for adoption.  I feel totally excited about adopting, as does Ryan.  It just feels right.

And yet, there are still emotionally difficult moments.  I will admit that I feel a twinge inside (of what, I'm not sure) when my friends tell me that they are pregnant.  I am so happy for them--but still a little sad for me.  And when I see girls whose babies are due in October, I can't help but wonder what I would be feeling if my pregnancy in January had not been ectopic.  I would have a cute "baby bump" too--or maybe a not-so-cute "baby bump," knowing my luck, but a "baby bump" just the same.

So now, we get back to country music.

Ten years ago, shortly after the doctor told me that it was going to be difficult for me to get pregnant someday, I was driving down the street and a country song by Jeff Carson came onto the radio.

It was one of those "story songs."  As I listened to the first verse, I chuckled a little because it was about a dog.  The narrator described how difficult it was when his first dog died, and the chorus said:

"I never was the same again,
from that moment on, real life began."

Oh brother, I thought. Real life began after his dog died?  (I will admit that I must be getting soft in my old age because that verse brings a tear to my eye now, but back then it just made me roll my eyes a bit...I never had a dog growing up, so I really didn't get it.)

The next verse, though, caught my attention.  He talked about how much his life changed after he met his wife.  Now that is cute, especially to a teenage girl.  He "never was the same again" after meeting her and his "real life began"...yeah, I can support that.

I didn't expect what was coming next (though I probably should have), so I wasn't emotionally prepared to hear the third verse:

"By your side, scared to death, felt the pain you were fighting--
Placed my palm on your head, spoke your name, 'Just keep trying.'
And then you closed your eyes and took one last breath,
and when it was over, you looked up,
and I laid our baby across your chest.

And I never was the same again,
from that moment on real life began."

As I listened to the words of the song, my lungs felt like they were closing up--I couldn't breathe.  I pulled over to the side of the road, put my head in my hands, and cried.  I was only 17; I had no idea what marriage was like or what it felt like to ache for a child.  Yet, even then, I knew that I wanted to have that moment with my husband.  More than anything, I wanted my husband to say that he "never was the same again" after he and I experienced the birth of our child together.  I wanted to give my husband that gift, and I was afraid that I would never be able to.

How do memories like that stay with us forever?  A moment driving when I was 17 years old--I've never forgotten it.

But life changes us.  And it doesn't turn out the way that we plan.  I do think that I will someday experience that moment with Ryan--but if I don't, and in the mean time, I know that other moments can and will be just as beautiful.  

A friend recently emailed me to tell me that she had a biological daughter and then adopted two boys.  She said that when she held her sons for the first time, she felt the same sense of total love and awe that she did when she held her daughter for the first time.  With her daughter, it was a sense of "This beautiful child grew inside of me, and now she is mine to cherish forever," while with her sons, it was a sense of "God brought this beautiful child into my life, and now he is mine to cherish forever."  Different situations--similar inexplicable emotions.

Our life is kind of an adventure right now: We don't know if Ryan will be accepted to a pediatric speciality program; we don't know in which state or even region of the USA we will be living next year; and we don't know when we will get a baby--or if it will be biological or adopted.

It's all part of my story, and a lot of the verses are still being written.


  1. You are an amazing writer! I love how emotional (in a happy way) this post is. Seriously, if I weren't at work right now, I would be openly crying. Instead, I'm not closedly crying. heh, that's not a word. But girl, you can write!

  2. Wow. I had never heard that story, Rach. Glad I waited until after work to read that blog post, because I have turned into a total basket case lately and cry at everything. Thanks a lot. :) Love you sis. I know you will be an awesome mom.

  3. That was a really sweet post, and one that your future children(adopted or not) will love to know about you.
    Chris and I had Benjamin a month before we were sealed in the Temple. I remember how amazing it was being in the sealing room and having them bring in our beautiful baby boy all dressed in white. He had pretty much cried from the day he was born, but for those twenty minutes he was the most peaceful happy little thing. He just sat there staring up at us and it was the most wonderful moment of my life.
    I think that you guys are going to be so blessed to be able to have this experience with each one of your adopted children. Something I was unable to experience with my other two boys.

  4. I have never heard this story. It is very touching and very well written. I love you and I had a great time visiting you! Praying for that baby to arrive.....

  5. Hi! Laura sent me over! I put your button on my blog and am going to send people over on Friday when I have the most visitors.

    Great post - I think at 17 you were wiser than most. *hugs*

  6. Why is it that I am usually a sobbing mess after I read your blog? ...or listen to country music for that matter. You such an amazing writer Rachel! Your children are going to love reading these posts some day.

  7. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your own storysong. You've almost made me consider giving country music another try.

  8. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts and feelings. I really enjoy reading your blog. It has really helped me choose to have a positive mindset and more faith. You'll be such wonderful parents! I can't wait!

  9. Um... starting my day with a few tears! I feel like a broken record, but you write so well. A lot of this reminded me of my friend who left the comment on my blog about your adoption... Anjane. We were close childhood friends but grew apart as we got older so I didn't know a lot of the things she was going through til we were adults. I'm pretty sure she has endometriosis, but it's really severe. Ever since she started her period as a teenager, her life became disfunctional. She couldn't go to school consistenly, never could hold a job... she was in a lot of pain, most of the time. And it wasn't until I started reading her blog a couple of years ago that I realized how much it affected her life. After she got married, she couldn't act like a normal wife. She was often in too much pain to go grocery shopping, clean the house, work etc. She's had countless surgeries. And then she got pregnant. I'm pretty sure things got better during her pregnancy. She carried the baby to full term, then lost him. They were devastated of course. They named him Jackson, and he is buried in the Mesa Cemetery. AFter Jackson, she knew she could get pregnant, so she endured years more of pain in hopes she could have another baby. I know so many of her blog posts were written in tears as she endured her trials and tried to understand Heavenly Father's plan for her. I would be in complete amazement at all that she was asked to go through. Well, this is turning into a really long story, but in the end, she decided to get a hysterectomy. And they were able to adopt a sweet little girl. Her posts after her surgery were so interesting..... describing what it was like to wake up in the morning and take a shower and not have to lay down afteward because of the effort it took just to shower.... what it felt like to run... it was incredible. But now she's also dealing with the consequences of a hysterectomy with no one her age who understands. Anyways.... not sure why I went into all that (I didn't even incude the adoption story!) but her email address is anjanehiatt@gmail.com if you ever want to ask her anything or talk to her. If you'd like to be invited to view her blog, I know she would be ok with that (she'd actually love it, I'm sure) just let me know. In the meantime, thanks for sharing another touching post... I want to look that song up now. And it reminded me to be grateful for my little screamer... on an especially bad morning. Perspective.

  10. Wow, Steph--that is SO INTENSE--much more intense than anything I have ever gone through! I had a student this year who suffered from severe endometriosis, and she missed literally weeks and weeks of school. Some cases of endometriosis are totally debilitating.

    I can't believe that your friend finally got pregnant and then lost the baby full term. That is one of my worst nightmares. My heart breaks for her!

    I would love to read her blog posts about all of this!

  11. You have managed to make me cry! :-) Thank you because though I am expecting our second child there is always that feeling of not knowing if you can have any more. Even after having Nissi, for a year and a half, I thought I would no longer be able to have another child and also felt those slight pangs of jealousy whenever someone said they were pregnant thought "ok when will it be our turn." Not because Nissi wasn't enough but because I felt our family was not complete. We've always been open to adoption and still plan to adopt someday to welcome yet another special spirit into our family. So trust me I understand on a different level but understand all the same. We are blessed in soo many ways even when we feel we are being punished or tested it's actually an enormous blessing awaiting to come forth. You know what I'm talking about as you've gone through everything I've gone through and am still going through. You are one amazing woman and I KNOW you will be blessed according to your desires because you are a blessing to those you touch. However a child comes into your life he/she will be the most blessed child for what you have to give...Love! Carrying a child in your womb isn't the only way to know or be able to show love..it's something you carry in your heart and you have it in abundance! (Sorry for the long post :) Just wanted to share my feelings with you and thank you..for everything.)

  12. This sounds like me. I love/hate country music also. Good on you for pulling over, though. What a responsible teen driver ;)

    Well, a few days ago, I contacted a girl I know who placed a child for adoption about 9 years ago to ask her if she had any tips/suggestions for an adoptive family on what they could do to improve their chances of getting a baby. Of course you have to be yourselves, but I thought it couldn't hurt to ask her. This is what she had to say:

    So, it was quite a long time ago since I placed Gavin for adoption and really it wasn't ultimately my decision who his parents were to be. It was something that I had to let God guide me fully. I probably read through 40 different profile packets and it was a really tough decision. I can tell you some things that put me off right away, but again this was a personal thing and I can't speak for every birth parent out there.

    As a birth parent we already know that the adoptive couple wants a baby and stating that over and over again sounds like you are begging. So I would let them know not to put that in their letter. It was nice to hear them talk about their talents, hobbies, family structure, discipline techniques, how they met as a couple, and what a new child would bring into their lives. It was also nice to read the letters that recognized the difficult decision the birth parent is going through and try to be empathetic. Overall, like you said your friends just need to be themselves and trust that their time will come when it is supposed to.

    Good to hear from you,

    For what it's worth, I'm thinking of you.

  13. thank you for being brave enough to publish this and honest with yourself enough to be able to write it.

    blessings to you and ryan


  14. you have a gift girl.
    a beautiful, wonderful gift.
    not many people can write like this. . . (so touching, so real and so very brilliant!) you *really and TRULY* touch those who are reading it.

    i have never known someone with such the essence of "the pure love of Christ."
    it's what we all STRIVE for and it just seems to "ooze" from you.
    no judgment.
    no animosity.
    just LOVE.
    that is you honey.

    your amazing Rach and someday YOU WILL KNOW the love and joy of having children.
    having children doesn't mean that you have to literally carry your child. . . it's becoming that someone. . . their mother. . . for the soul of another.
    thanks for being you and being so positive. . . i am here.

  15. can i please have a box of tissues over here please! ;)

  16. i said "please" twice. . . man!
    leave it to me to mess up on the English teacher's blog! ha! ;)


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