Sometimes these days I try not to, but most of the time I can’t help thinking about the future. That’s what all this is about, right? Future babies, our future as parents, the future of our families. Trying to conceive is long (for us), pregnancy is long (in the best case scenario), and when you mix in a combination of infertility and pregnancy loss, it all gets even longer. The future that we are hoping for keeps slipping farther and farther away.
One of the few things that makes this process bearable for me is setting milestones to work towards, so that the future becomes a little bit less blank, uncertain, and terrifying. Today I had a milestone-setting conversation with my husband, and thought I’d write about it here.
The next milestone on my list is the appointment with our RE in about two weeks. I made the appointment in March after we found out that our second try post-adhesiolysis surgery had failed. Thinking about going back to the RE after only two tries was perhaps premature, but that’s part of the point — it’s not that I wanted to go back immediately, but rather that I wanted a date on the calendar so that the blank future of trying again didn’t stretch out forever. I made the appointment for a date in the future that would be after four tries (the nurse I spoke to recommended 3-6 based on our history). If I’d had to cancel the appointment because I was pregnant, I would have done so gladly (and only a little sheepishly), but since I’m not pregnant it’s been an immense source of comfort knowing that it’s coming up. I don’t know if I can make it until we’re pregnant again (which might be never), but I do know that I can make it to the RE appointment in May.
Now that it’s only two weeks away, I’m already thinking about the next milestone. Today I brought up the subject of an adoption timeline with my husband. I tried to make it clear that no, I wasn’t saying we should start looking into adoption immediately, but rather that I wanted to think about the timeline on which we’d start seriously looking into adoption. There’s a big difference in my mind. (He understood, because he’s clever like that.) 🙂
I don’t know how most people decide to start seriously considering adoption as a way of building their family when biology fails. Part of the problem is that there’s often no obvious point at which biology has failed — it’s more of a question of how much time, energy, and money you’re able and willing to invest in trying to make biology work.
Today, I started thinking about possible outcomes that included adoption. Here are some possible outcomes, with my thoughts about them:
- Outcome #1 (a.k.a. worst case scenario): Neither biology nor adoption works for us. This seems highly unlikely, but possible.
- Outcome #2: Both adoption and biology work out for us, and we wind up with two babies nearly-simultaneously, one biological and one adopted.
- Outcome #3: Biology doesn’t work, and we adopt a baby (or two or three)
- Outcome #4: Biology works and I give birth to a baby (or two or three)
- Outcome #5: Both biology and adoption work for us, but at different times, and we end up with both biological and adopted children of various ages.
Of all possible outcomes, only one is a bad outcome in my view (Outcome #1), and that’s the least likely. Outcome #2 is not ideal, but has advantages. I recently found out that our across-the-street neighbors (one of whom is my coworker, so we carpool together a few days a week) built their family through egg donation, resulting in their adorable 5-year-old twin girls. The twins are a handful, but they’re great playmates for each other, our neighbors enjoy being done with a stage once it’s over (i.e., no more diapers forever!), and clearly if we wound up with two similar-age babies we’d make it work (and count our blessings!). A mixed biological/adopted family has its challenges, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m very pro-adoption (I’m very close to my adopted cousin, who is also married to an adoptee), and I would be thrilled to build our family partly or wholly through adoption. My husband is also positive about adoption, although he has a few more concerns, some of which I share (mostly related to the likelihood of special needs of various sorts). But when I think about the options above, I feel quite positive about all but option #1, which makes me wonder whether it really makes sense to wait to think seriously about adoption — and to think that maybe it’s time to consider a timeline for when we might start taking steps towards building our family through adoption.
We talked about it some, and agreed that September seemed like a good time to evaluate our feelings about adoption and think about taking some proactive steps in that direction. By September we’ll have been trying for about 9 months post-adhesiolysis surgery, so we’ll have a better idea about how bad the damage to my uterus has been and whether or not the corrections are likely to work. (Some of this is also contingent on our appointment with the RE and any testing or treatment she might recommend.) September will also mark two years since we started actively trying for a baby (as opposed to two years since I went off birth control, which is coming up next month), and one year since the death of our daughter.
Starting the adoption process only two years into the process of trying to conceive might seem fast to some people. But I’ve already built up a laundry list of known fertility issues that make any path a long and rocky road, and since we both generally feel positive about adoption independent of biology, it seems like there’s not actually much of a down side to pursuing the two in parallel. It’s not just impatience to be parents to a living child, although that’s part of it — it’s a recognition that parenting is more important to us than propagating our genes, and that going through a high-risk pregnancy after years of infertility and loss (which is simply the reality of what we’re facing at this point) might not be the best way for our family to grow.
So, that’s where we are right now. I’ll admit, not being pregnant last month hit me hard, and I’m not even sure I can fully explain why. But thinking about the future in a concrete way, and setting milestones for proactive behavior rather than leaving the future as a big blank uncertain fog, is helping me deal with the mini-loss of another unsuccessful cycle. I’d be interested to hear how others have started factoring adoption or other family-building methods into their thinking about their future family. What factors are important to you in setting a timeline? When did you start to think seriously about alternatives to biology (i.e., wife’s eggs plus husband’s sperm), or when do you plan to?