This begins the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is pre-2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
You were created for a purpose. In fact, each of us was created for a special, unique purpose. Sadly, many of us go through many years of our lives not having a clue what our unique purpose in life is. Unfortunately, too many people never seem to find their unique purpose in life.
If you had told me as little as 4 years ago that my purpose in life was to become intertwined in politics I would have laughed in your face and probably had a few “not so nice” words for you. I absolutely, positively despise politics. I am not a game player, and I see politics as nothing but a huge game at the expense of other people.
I also believe that everything in life that happens, happens for a reason. We may never know why some things happen, but there are other times I believe that it becomes quite evident why something or a series of events happen.
I view my entire life through the lens of believing that every single thing serves a purpose for my specific purpose in life. If I had not lived through the things I have lived through I would not be the person I am. While I am by no means perfect, I am very happy with the woman I have become.
However, it has not always been that way.
I will tell you how it all began… me becoming so intertwined in the very thing I detest so much- politics. This is a very personal and painful story that has spun into what has now become a life-long commitment to shed light on and change a system that is completely broken.
There are a couple of things that most every little girl dreams of. The first is her wedding day. Before she learns to walk in high heels, it is quite likely that she has planned her wedding down to the tiniest detail. She knows what her color scheme will be. She knows what her cake will look like. She knows what her brides maids dresses will look like. And most importantly, she knows what her wedding gown will look like.
It is not important to her at this point that she has no way of knowing the most important detail- who her groom will be.
Nor is it important to her that she has not given this man, who she has most likely not even met at this point in her young little life, the opportunity to make choices on their very special day.
The wedding day is, of course, all about what the bride wants, right?
Another day that most every little girl dreams of is the day she becomes a mommy. From the earliest age we are given baby dolls so we can prepare to be the best little mother in the entire world!
As a child, my favorite toy was my baby dolls. I was never one to play with Barbie Dolls. In fact, I do not believe I ever owned a Barbie. However, I had countless baby dolls. My dollies and I would play for hours, lost in our little world of make-believe.
I was an odd mixture of a child. I was one who always wanted to be grown up way before my time. And yet, I was perfectly content to play with my dolls, lost in a world that disappears from us way too quickly- childhood.
I crossed over the bridge from being a child to a lady way too young. From the very beginning I had numerous problems that have lasted me my entire lifetime.
When I was about 20-years-old I first heard about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I read a magazine article, and they listed all of the symptoms. I had every single symptom! I copied the article and took it to my doctor. She tested me, and told me that no, I did not have it. At the time, very little was known about PCOS. I thought I had the answer, only to be shot down again.
Over the years, I honestly cannot tell you how many doctors I have seen. I am what some would call an anomaly. If there’s a strange health issue, more than likely, I have it. I do exaggerate here, and honestly, I do thank God for my good health. Though I have many issues, I know I could have it a lot worse. So, though I have seen many different doctors, for various different reasons over my lifetime, most of the time my doctor visits centered around the parts of my body that define me as a woman rather than simply a human.
When I was in my early 20’s I was diagnosed with Human Papaloma Virus (HPV). At the time, I was mortified! It is a sexually transmitted disease. It was not until many years later that I would discover that nearly 80% of the population has HPV- and many do not even know they have it.
After it was discovered that I had HPV I began the treatment. There are no words to express the pain involved in the treatment of HPV. I’ve had several different procedures over the years. The first treatment was freezing. They froze my cervix. And then they thawed it out. And then froze it again. And then they thawed it out again. Quite honestly, I cannot tell you what else is involved in the procedure. I know there is something else, but I do not remember. I believe I’ve had the freezing procedure done twice. This procedure is not only painful during the process of the procedure, but the aftermath is almost as bad.
Later, I had the CONE Procedure. This procedure requires that they cut a cone-shaped piece of your cervix out. You only have a local anesthesia. As with the freezing, not only is it very painful during the procedure, but it is also very painful during the healing process as well.
I ended up moving to another state, and had to find another doctor. So the search began yet again.
I went to see a doctor that had been recommended to me. I had such a bad experience with her that I swore I would never go back to another gynecologist.
By this point in my life, I have had so many bad experiences with doctors that I cannot recount them all. This last was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the saying goes. I finally said enough. No more. I refuse to put my legs up in stir-ups for anyone else! Man or woman, it didn’t matter.
But with the issues I have had over the years, I should have known I would never be able to stick to my word.
When I was in my early 30’s I began having severe pains in my abdomen. I tried to dismiss the pains, but eventually they got so bad that a friend and my husband ganged up on me and insisted that I go to the doctor. I am very thankful that they did, because this doctor diagnosed me with endometriosis. I had to have surgery to address that issue.
After the surgery, I had to be put on medication to put me in chemical menopause for 6 months. I was told exactly what to expect. But in reality, there is no way you can fully grasp what is going to happen. Thankfully, I was prescribed what we called “Happy Pills” during this time. If not, my already bald husband would have been pulling out the stubble. It was no fun at all- for either of us, or anyone that spent any time at all around me.
It was probably around this time in my life where I began to truly feel less of a ________.
You can fill in the blank with many different words. The first word was “woman”. I felt like I was not truly a woman. Not only had I never had children, but now I was going through menopause. Keep in mind I was well informed that the treatment would only last for 6 months, and then I would be off of the medication and have a normal cycle again. I felt less of a person because I could not lose the weight that I needed to lose.
I am sure at this point you are wondering where my rational thinking was. That’s the point. I was not rational at all.
I have spoken to other women who have gone through chemical menopause, and the reaction is wide and varied. Mine seems to be one of the most extreme experiences. One of my friends had very little change mentally or emotionally when she had to have the same treatment.
After completing the 6 months of chemical menopause, we began to try to have children. Previously, we had not tried to prevent pregnancy, but it had not been a consistent calendaring of events.
This is where the real fun begins.
After several months of actively trying to conceive, with no results, I went back to the doctor. My doctor told me there was nothing more he could do to help me, I had to help myself. He told me that the endometriosis was taken care of, so the only problem I was having in conceiving was that I needed to lose weight. This would solve the problem.
Almost in tears, I asked him how to do that. His next words infuriated me beyond words. “Just don’t eat so much”. I had to clamp my mouth shut before I went off right there in the office. Sure, he had no problems. He was very fit and slender. It was quite obvious he had not struggled a day in his life with weight issues. And not only that, my husband is very slender and eats twice as much as I do, if not more!
Since he did not feel that he could help me any further, he referred me to his colleague, who is a fertility specialist. Thankfully, I did not open my mouth and say the things that were on the tip of my tongue, because the referral was the beginning of a lot of answers for me.
I was very leery to go to my first appointment with yet another doctor. I could not tell you what number this one was.
When I met the new doctor, at once I was put at ease. He was not slender. He is a plump little man with a smile that warms the room and my heart. He has the bedside manner that I have always dreamt of. During the very first visit, I told him exactly what his colleague had told me and how I felt about him. His response was not at all what I imagined. He said, “Well, yes, losing weight may definitely help- not in just conceiving a child, but in a healthier life. But that may not be the complete answer. As you can see, I need to lose weight too. So, I’ll lose 10 pounds if you’ll lose 10 pounds.” Immediately I was at ease.
Now, honestly, neither of us lost the 10 pounds. But to have him treat me as a person with feelings rather than him ridiculing me made all the difference in the world.
The first thing he did was run a complete battery of blood test. I had told him that I had all the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but they had told me for years that I do not. He looked over my information and agreed that yes, I had every single symptom. When the test results came back, it showed up as negative for PCOS. I started crying, right there on the examining table as he talked to me. He immediately started patting my hand. He assured me that he was going to do the test again. He saw the issues, and was not giving up. So, when the second set of test results came back negative, he told me not to worry, he was going to treat me for PCOS no matter the test results. By this time, he had performed a vaginal sonogram and could actually physically see the cysts on my ovaries with the sonogram. So he diagnosed me, even though the blood test was saying I didn’t have it. This is what makes the difference between a doctor and a good doctor. He actually listened to me! I cannot tell you how many doctors over the years have just shoved me out of the office with a more nutritious eating plan.
I will not tell you I eat the healthiest. But, over the years, numerous times I have made many concerted efforts to eat right, exercise, and lose the weight. Every single time I failed. If I actually lost weight, I would gain it back almost immediately if I ate anything not on the plan. Or, there were even times when I gained weight rather than lost weight, while eating healthier and exercising. Yes, I do realize that muscle weighs more than fat, but I did not gain that much muscle mass in that small period of time. After a while, it becomes very discouraging. You see the scales going up. You are making better decisions in what you eat. And you have no real success. So why try? And you go ahead and eat the unhealthy stuff anyways. It becomes a vicious cycle.
To have someone listen to me, to know that maybe, just maybe, after all these years, there may be some answers, I was excited beyond belief! Yes, it means I am sick. Yes, it means I will have to take medication- possibly for the rest of my life- but hey, it is answers! I’ve gone 15 years or more with absolutely no answers and more frustrations.
It was interesting to find out that the medication that is used to treat PCOS is diabetes medication. Though I am not diabetic, PCOS affects the amount of insulin that is absorbed by your body. When I started the medication, I had a few small side effects but nothing major. It was during this time that my husband and I decided we wanted to go full-scale in trying to conceive a child. So in addition to the PCOS medication, I also started taking fertility medication. Once again, we got on a merry-go-around ride of up-and-down emotions.
After about a year on my medication for PCOS, it suddenly started making me violently ill. My doctor changed my medication and I was on this medication with no problems at all for almost 2 years. Then I started having problems again. I was still taking the fertility drugs as well.
The fertility medication had to be taken at a certain time each month- depending on when your cycle starts. After you finish the medication, you have to go into the doctor’s office to have a sonogram. Depending on what the sonogram shows depends on what you do next. If the follicles are a certain size, you are ready to proceed. If they are not to a certain size, you have to wait a day or so, and go have another sonogram done.
Add to this that your sex-life is no longer determined by when the mood strikes you and your spouse, you now watch the calendar. You count days. You know when you “have” to have sex in order to conceive. It does not make for a romantic setting, to say the least. While my husband and I have always had a very healthy sex life with no complaints on either side, it became a dreaded thing when we had to schedule sex for the sole purpose of having a child. The enjoyment seems to disappear when you both know that in the back of your mind you are wondering if this is going to be the time you are finally successful.
Studies have proven that the most sexual organ of our body is our mind. If our mind is not there, then you are simply going through the motions. I never truly understood this until we had to schedule our love life. While previously, a phone-call inviting a noon-time rendezvous was very exciting, it now became a burden for both of us. It was not at all that we did not enjoy being with each other anymore. We both just knew that the purpose of our love-making was very specific during these appointments.
Needles to say, this process becomes quite expensive very quickly. Most health insurance policies do not cover fertility treatments, so this comes out of your pocket. In less than 6 months we spent almost $10,000.
I have had people ask me why we have gone through so much to have children. If you are one of those people who are very blessed, and you can conceive without any difficulty, then there is no possible way you can understand. If you have not walked in these shoes, there is no way you can know the emotional agony.
When my husband proposed to me I told him there was no way I could marry him, because I knew there was a big possibility I would not be able to have children due to all my medical problems. He is the most genuine, most matter-of-fact, most black-and-white view of things people I’ve ever met. I had seen him interact with children, and I had heard him talk about spending time with his nieces and nephews, so I knew he loved children. I still tease him to this day that I think he wanted to be a father before he wanted to be a husband.
When I told him that I did not know if I could have children, his response was that there is always adoption. That thought had never occurred to me with him, because it was not an option at all in my first marriage.
Even with the thought that we could adopt a child, I still saw it as impossible because we are not wealthy people. By this point we had spent well over $12,000 or more in our quest to become parents. I knew that adoptions were not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
One of every little girl’s dreams for me had been shattered. I was not going to be a mommy. Or… was I? Sometimes things are not always as they seem.
Little did I know that lives were about to take a dramatic turn.
The purpose of this series: Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?
The next chapter in this series: A Missed Message
Foster Care: A Broken System- Video