Welcome, Kimberly, to myferriswheel. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with the world.
Kimberly is just beginning to emerge from the baby-induced brain-fog of the past seven years, and hopes to someday take up where she left off at www.NewlywedNoLonger.com (truth and grace in marriage) and www.OurSecretThoughts.wordpress.com (the journey from infertility to parenthood).
She is also a freelance writer and editor, is blessed with a husband who also is a great father, but stays mostly busy with her kiddos, a house that never is clean or orderly, and the ongoing challenge of figuring out the next meal.
- What specific hurdles into parenthood have you faced and what does your family look like today?
Miscarriage, infertility and adoption.
Initially, my husband and I had no problems at all. We were pregnant before we expected to be, and before we knew we were – which meant that I made a trip to Uganda without knowing I was pregnant. Whether due to the various shots I had to have such as yellow fever vaccination or due to overseas travel and hotter weather than I’m used to, either way we lost our child at eight weeks. It could have been a simple reason that everyone gave us: “Many women lose their first baby.” But that miscarriage was the entrance into seven years of infertility.
After 5 years of humiliating, incredibly painful, and consistently disappointing appointments, tests, and procedures, we had reached the end of what we were willing to do for medical intervention. Rather than taking the expensive path of IVF, which has no guarantees of success, we decided to pursue adoption, which felt slightly more achievable. This led into its own winding, nail-biting journey toward parenthood, but ended with the joy of a Latina daughter in our arms.
A couple years later we entered into the process for a second adoption, hoping again for another brown-skinned baby to join our predominantly white-skinned family. After 10 months and two potential adoptions that fell through, we finally had a call that a third birth mom wanted to meet us. Strangely enough, on that same day, I had a positive pregnancy test. It had been seven years since our miscarriage.
After the birth of our second daughter at 31 weeks, our family was complete. Except that then it wasn’t. We were surprised – no, shocked – by a second pregnancy. Now our family consists of 2 girls and one boy.
- Is it hard for you when people ask if you have children or how many children you have? What do you wish people would ask or say instead?
Prior to adopting Madeleine, the question of do you have children was awkward and painful. I would always hesitate, wondering if I should burden them with the answer, “I had one but we lost it.”
In all fairness, there is no way around that question. People are simply enquiring about me and mean no harm. It places too much burden on the other person to tiptoe around the issue they are not aware I have. I am on the other side of that agony at this point, and find that my experience has given me compassion for people who have pain in other parts of their lives. While I have deep compassion for people in various seasons of disappointment, I know I cannot be omniscient and understand how to avoide all of the tender areas of their heart. What I do try to do is listen well if they want to express to me how I have managed to hurt their feelings in my not knowing.
- What emotions have surrounded your journey and how have they changed over time?
I have experienced the deepest anger and disappointment and sense of betrayal around this issue than any around any other issue. I have wrestled with God, told God I did not want to speak with him. I have lost a dear a friend in the process. I have been mired in the depths of confusion and fear. But I have also experienced the softness of God’s grace wrapped around me, and the unexpected fulfillment of my treasured hope.
- Do you consider your family complete? If so, how did you reach that conclusion?
Yes. This is the family God has given us, but my acceptance of this is not without its questions. For the most part, I look at my children and feel a sense of unbelief that they truly are mine. Five years of longing for a child and seven years of longing for pregnancy were a good school for teaching me thankfulness even when I am at my most exhausted and irritated.
- How has your journey shaped you? Are you stronger? Resentful? More compassionate? Angry…?
Years ago, before I knew any better, I asked God to teach me how to “weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15) I do not accuse God of giving me this journey in order to answer my prayer, but part of the good He has brought out of my journey is giving me understanding and compassion for people on various difficult paths. Call it a transferable skill. J I have found that the grace in this journey is walking with others when they have no one else who understands.
- What role has faith played in your journey?
My immediate thought is, I don’t know how people do this without God. While I know that many people walk through life without any form of faith, my relationship with Jesus Christ has informed my entire life. My struggles with God have only further convinced me of his love and care for me. But as with any relationship, there have been moments when this did not feel true.
- How has this experience impacted your relationships with those closest to you?
I immediately smile at this question, because my husband and I grew closer through the journey. There were rough times – times when I have screamed at him and walked away. But always I knew that where I most wanted to be was in his arms. While one or two friendships suffered, others grew only stronger. One of the surprises on this path has been the people who I never expected to join me but who walked along beside me at various times.
- What questions have you been asked that were particularly hurtful, inappropriate, distressing? What questions do you wish you would be/have been asked instead?
I would rather not have had people’s suggestions for which positions to use. Believe me, we tried everything. Repeatedly. The suggestion that we adopt and would then find ourselves pregnant was maddening. I confess it is slightly irritating that God made us a case in point. My response to people who suggested that adoption would bring about pregnancy was “and then do I say to my adopted child ‘we adopted you just so we could get pregnant?’” More irritating still, was the admonition that we just needed to relax. Frankly, only idiots say such things. (Can you tell I am still bothered by a few things?)
Often, it is not the questions so much as the attitude or assumptions. I have found that disclaimers can go a long way to helping a conversation. Saying something like, “I have never been in your shoes, so please let me know if any of my suggestions or questions are hurtful” can go a long way toward easing the conversation.
- What advice would you give to people in a similar place?
Practice grace, for yourself and others. Work hard to walk the path together with your spouse, while knowing you will experience the journey differently. Again, practice grace. Look for others who have been there, and lean on them. Don’t shut God out. While you may want to blame him, and he can handle anything you throw at him, know that he chases after you with lovingkindness – whether or not you believe it in the moment. Do some online Bible word searches – “anger,” “forgotten,” “shame” – and see what you learn about this all-powerful one who seems to show so little power in your life.
- What do you want people to understand about what has been hardest for you?
Infertility is unrelenting. It is a constantly-renewed grief occurring roughly every 4 weeks. The longer it lasts, the harder it becomes, the heavier the burden. One does not get used to unwanted childlessness nor become immune to the disappointment. Just when family and friends are ready to move on, the couple wading through the depths of unanswered prayer is reaching some of the darkest places they ever have visited. Do they want and try to “just get over it and move on”? Of course. Just like anyone with chronic physical pain wants to get over it. Just like any unemployed person on a never-ending job hunt wants to move on. Simple answers merely add to the burden. Adoption is not the answer to this grief. It is a new path chosen, full of its own difficulties and humiliations and hope and fear and insecurities and financial expenditures. As with any challenge in life, infertility — and adoption, if chosen — requires strenuous amounts of courage.