1 in 8.
That's how many couples struggle to build a family. I never thought that we would be one of them.
This is our story of infertility.
When my husband and I got married in 2009, we had a grand plan to wait five years before trying to have children. A year into marriage, we decided that we were ready. My cycles had always been normal and painless, and Andrew didn't have any known issues. So when we began actively trying to conceive in October 2010, I was already dreaming about how we would announce my pregnancy to our immediate families at Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving passed, and so did Christmas.
"Normal couples are able to conceive within six months to a year," my doctor said. "Not to worry. Come back and see me in a few more months."
"Not to worry." Of course I worried. When it seemed like every woman around me simply had to look at her partner in order to get pregnant, I began to wonder what was wrong with me.
I did go back to see that doctor in a few more months. I went through a whole gamut of blood and hormonal tests and then started taking drugs for our "unexplained infertility". These did nothing but make me an emotional mess. At this point, my husband was referred to a specialist for further diagnostic testing.
There were major issues.
The surgery required to repair the problem only had a 50 percent success rate. Desperate, we proceeded with the surgery and waited for the results.
It didn't work.
I remember sitting on the edge of our bed, month after month, with a negative pregnancy test in my hand yet again, and sobbing. I prayed, I yelled, and I questioned. Mostly, though, I just cried.
One month, there was the faintest blue line on the test that would have indicated a positive result. I didn't dare to hope that it was real, and sure enough, I started a new cycle within the week. An early miscarriage, I think. This never happened again, and I never spoke of it with anyone.
In 2012, my doctor wanted to do more invasive testing to determine our next steps. My tubes were blocked. More devastation.
Fortunately, surgery was able to repair my tubes. Still, with our combined issues, the doctor's prognosis was that a successful pregnancy was "highly improbable." More tears.
We chose not to attempt IVF, the only other option presented.
My husband and I grieved separately throughout all of the months that turned into years. Cracks began to form in our marriage, which all but disintegrated over the course of our infertility struggle.
In June 2013, a brave birth mom gifted us with our firstborn through adoption. Piper is perfect, and we both bonded with her immediately. I eventually made peace with the likelihood that we would never have biological children, but I knew that a part of me would always desire one and wonder why we couldn't.
After Piper's birth, Andrew and I began discussing adoption again. We weren't ready right away, but since adoption can be a time-consuming and expensive process, we wanted to have a plan.
As Piper grew, I couldn't have loved her any more than I did. Yet I still grieved and became depressed. The addition of this child to our family did not fix our marriage or remove my questions.
We never stopped trying to build our family biologically, so each month continued to pass with a tinge of disappointment that we could not.
Then, when Piper was 17 months old and completely out of nowhere, I got a positive pregnancy test.
I was convinced that it wasn't real, and I wouldn't let myself look at it. But the blue line was unmistakable this time, and a second test confirmed that I was expecting.
Caroline, whose name means "joyful song", was born on August 4, 2015, after over four years of infertility.
Our family is perfect, and looking back on our story now, I never would have written it a different way. Adoption has forever changed our lives for the better, and I can't imagine having any other child instead of our Piper. It pains me to think that she would not be my daughter if I had gotten exactly what I wanted, when I wanted it.
Caroline is a joyful little toddler. Every day, she reminds me that I serve a God who is the Master of all types of "highly improbable" situations. Our marriage has been made new, but that was not the result of having a biological child. That was Him.
Even with two beautiful girls and an amazing husband/dad, I will never forget the years of sorrow that we endured as a result of infertility and loss. In my journal in 2012, I wrote, "Every day when I wake up, the whole world feels dark." I didn't write again for years.
Our story ended with a pregnancy, but many stories of infertility do not. I want to remember this.
And I want to keep telling this story, because 1 in 8 couples deals with infertility, but far less than 1 in 8 actually talk about it. I've never felt lonelier in my life than when we were walking through our story.
If you aren't dealing with infertility, someone around you is. Be sensitive. Be aware. And heed some of my favorite advice: "Better to be silent and remain a fool than to speak and remove all doubt" (Abraham Lincoln). Your friend needs your presence, not your platitudes.
If you're in the midst of infertility right now, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. It's horrible. Know that people will say all sorts of ridiculous things to you, and that well-intentioned friends can never fully understand until they've been where you have.
You are not alone.
1 in 8.