February 16, 2010

Not An Accident

I truly believe that my daughter is more valuable than any other child.  You should think the same about yours.  I think that is a great starting point for being a parent.

I realized that Anny and I have not honestly shared our story, and there might be someone who wants to or needs to hear it.  We know many people who "just tried once or twice" to get pregnant, and while we are always elated for them, it always reminds us of our journey. 

Be forewarned, I write about my sex life in this post, but I assure you that part is brief.  There some details will be more than you ever wanted to know about me and my wife, but they are not gory or gruesome.  There are details of our lives that I keep to myself, believe it or not.  Feel free to hit the "back" button on your browser.  I'll have a cute Abby picture post later this week.

As a quick refresher: Anny and I met in the summer of 1999.  We knew each other for about six months before she was completely bored and called me to go to Baltimore for the day.  We became close friends shortly thereafter.  We were best friends by the start of summer camp in 2000 and began dating around mid-summer (I'm sure I could dig up the date if I had to).  In 2001 we were engaged and married in March of 2002.  (The last date I know without a doubt!)

In 2003 we made a trip for Presidents Day to visit Paul and Sarahlynn whereupon they told us that they were having a child!  Anny and I were of course elated, but our tone of conversation quickly changed, even before we boarded the airplane to head for home on Monday.  We had obviously talked about having children before we were married, that is the responsible thing to do.  We had joked and talked about timing and names and all of those silly things that hopeful people do, but something changed with that monkey picture that was so neatly wrapped for us that night.  All of the sudden a switch went off for Anny, and we had to talk through that.

Shortly thereafter we had to talk through all of the even-more-fun-than-poking-yourself-in-the-eye (at least to a 24 year old man!) conversations about how many children, how could we afford such a burden, how big of a house would we require for our brood, et cetera.  Some of these conversations were wonderful and fun - let's have six children so that they can all play hockey together and not have to play with others! - but some were very hard - if I make $X.00 and you make $Y.00 but we need $X.00 + $Y.00 + $Z,ZZZ.00 to make this happen, how do we make this work? A big question that we had to jump through was whether or not there was a chance to pass on my kidney disease to any offspring we had, because that was a big deal for me.  I checked with my nephrologist on this one and we're safe.

We talked each other off of a couple of ledges over the course of a couple of weeks and decided that we would join Paul and Sarahlynn in their joyous time and get pregnant and have children at around the same time - maybe about six months apart, but certainly close enough to share a wonderful bond with each other and make everyone in the world gasp at how perfect they would both be.

A month went by after Anny went off of "the" pill with nothing - no baby, no period - nothing.  We were young and enjoying "trying" to make a baby, so we didn't really notice.  Another month went by and Anny got to questioning things, but I was still having fun sex more often than before, so I saw nothing really wrong.  Month after month went by with nothing to show for our efforts but a happy husband and a growing-depressed wife.  Don't get me wrong, I was disappointed, but for a male who spent my work life revolved around children, I was getting my cute-kid fix often without having one of my own.  Heck, I had even picked up a second job at the church working with youth, so I was really happy.

After Ellie was born things really ramped up and we Anny decided that it would be best to have a doctor intervene and figure out what was "wrong" with us and why it was not happening for us the way that (we perceived) it happens for everyone else: you go off the pill in April and you have a beautiful bouncing baby by the next April.  After doing research we settled on a very well known group in the DC area who's name I will give you if you contact me, but I will not put out here because overall they are wonderful, but did not handle us exactly the way they should have.

For almost a year (this was over the course of 2004-2005) we were under the care of a professional fertility clinic - subscribing to their very strenuous schedules and tests, all of which are "normal" as a part of the program and I think are designed to prove to them that you really want to be a parent.  Anny would drive from Manassas to Fairfax and back, before school began, three or four times a week for blood tests and other tests, and we drove to different places as necessary (luckily on weekends mostly) for Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) treatments when her body was "ready" for that step in the process.

We went through the process three or four times - I could tell you from bank records - without any success at all.  I was ready to have conversation about adoption or being Childless-But-Happy, as many people are, but every time it came up we got into huge fights that ended with one of us in tears and the other steaming mad.  The role changed each time, I think.  I will not say that it took its toll on our marriage as it does to some other people, though.  I think that because of our "failure" we had a lot of honest conversations that people tend to avoid, and that continues now.  (Silver Lining, or something like that.)

In 2005 we moved from Manassas, VA to Maryland.  I moved in March and Anny had to stay back in VA until school was over in June.  We had made the decision that this was best for us as a married couple, though would mean tricky times for procreation.  Meeting up at the IHOP twice a week in Vienna was not exactly ideal, though I might have made the offer on more than one occasion!  We decided to stop what we had been doing and start from scratch when we were settled in on the other side of the river.

Anny moved up to join me in Maryland as soon as school let out, and my Aunt moved out of the house in August, right as school was starting for Anny.  Not an ideal situation - new school, new year, new everything - to start things back up, but the fertility clinic had a location close to her work.  So we started the process of IUI again during the summer.  On the first time "back in the saddle" we had success and got to see our little "Smudge" (which began Abby's own site).

During the process of repeated IUI treatments we kept things to ourselves and a very small group of people who knew - supervisors at work and a few friends.  I am not sure if that was a blessing or a curse, though.  It was harder for me to keep things quiet - as is obvious because I keep a blog, and hard for Anny to talk to other people about it because of the intimate privacy that is associated with it.

Bottom line - Abby is the only thing in the world that Anny and I have ever truly yearned for or wanted.  She is our everything. 

*This post was originally written in a defensive stance.  Someone whose sense of humor is not tolerated around me anymore called Abby an "accident" while she was playing.  I wrote this post shortly thereafter.  I realized that I did not want Abby to ever read this and have it come across as negative, so it has been re-written.  Some of the sentiment may still remain, and I hope that you will look past that.  Thanks.


  1. I thought it was beautiful and I didn't pick up on any negativity.

  2. We tried for two years before we got pregnant with MG. I know how frustrating that is! Then Claire was our "whoops!" but she turned out to be exactly what we didn't even know we needed.

    (Obligatory funny story - we got pregnant with MG on our own the month of our first infertility appointment - so I was able to call the infertility doctor's office and say, "Wow, you guys are GOOD! You fixed us over the phone!!" He became our OB).

    How lucky you are, sweet Abby, to have two such devoted parents!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story :-) It didn't come across negative at all.

  4. You and Anny have a gorgeous child! And how lucky she is to have you! Many people I know have struggled to fulfill their parental dreams. This story is inspirational, and not at all negative.

  5. I think more of us should be more open about our struggles. Only *after* I had Ellie did I realize that my two best friends, my sister-in-law, and both of my sisters struggled with infertility. (Plus lots of co-workers and other acquaintances.) I think it's crazy common! And I have definitely seen it hurt relationships, where sex becomes so inextricably tied to procreation that it becomes a point of contention - rather than connection - in a marriage. So sad.

    (In our case, I did not struggle with infertility but it still took 6 months of "doing everything just right" and carefully timed everything with lots of "just in case" efforts. It seems ridiculous now that I was *convinced* the first time I had unprotected sex I'd become pregnant. Sex ed worked on me!)

    This part of your post I didn't already know: "[we] decided that we would join Paul and Sarahlynn in their joyous time and get pregnant and have children at around the same time - maybe about six months apart, but certainly close enough to share a wonderful bond with each other and make everyone in the world gasp at how perfect they would both be."

    Awesome. And so sad. I'm sorry. In the end, it worked out though. Yay for same-age cousins Ada and Abby! Yay for Sarahlynn and Anny being pregnant together for Christmas 2006! That was awesome.

    Friends who started "trying" before we did were on vacation in Hawaii with us when they learned that I was expecting. They were positive, but secretly hurting. Later I asked them, "Does it make it any easier, that my news about Ellie wasn't universally positive and easy?"

  6. I'm glad everything worked out for you in the end and I'm sure your difficulties made your relationship stronger. My best friend and his wife unfortunately went through a similar situation, however a surgeon decided the fate of their biological family. It took them a long time to come to grips with it. Since then they have adopted two awesome little boys and are very happy. With their troubles and two of my wife's close friends problems we don't take for granted how fortunate things have been for us.

  7. I truly believe that my daughter is more valuable than any other child.

    This comment could not be any more true. I absolutely think every parent should feel the same way. And there are a million words that would be just as good in that line as 'valuable', special, beautiful, important...so many empowering things we can say about our children. And it's all true!

    I'm glad you two were blessed with Abby. I am eternally grateful for my girls.

  8. I have two beautiful little girls thanks to the wonders of IVF. Thanks for sharing, it is something few people seem to understand.

  9. How on earth did that person think she was an accident after all that planning? (Goes without saying that you NEVER FREAKIN EVER SAY THAT ANYWAY!)

    We've been all over the board in the time for each kid. And even with our last munchkin, the big, big surprise, he was no accident.

  10. Thanks for all of the comments. As I've said before - we have did not have the struggle that some other people have faced, but when you're living it, it's the worst. Feel free to share this with others going through similar stuff - I know that a co-worker of Anny's was appreciative.