This photo of a baby wrapped in a rainbow swaddle surrounded by the syringes used to conceived her went viral and is helping to bring awareness and shares the struggles woman endure to become moms/have families. The O’Neill’s told Christin Zdanowicz of CNN, that after four years of trying, seven attempts, three miscarriages, 1,616 injections, and approximately $40,000, they were overjoyed to welcome their daughter to their family.
Seeing this moving picture, touched me and I wanted to share some of my own thoughts since, infertility has so many faces and names associated with it…it does not discriminate based on ethnicity. In our case, the anguish was one that started almost 20yrs ago, and after a 10 yr battle with endometriosis and adenomyosis accompanied by debilitating pain and years of treatment ultimately resulting in a hysterectomy–defined “infertility” for me. Now the face of our joy is in the form of our miracle baby who after years of praying, one special kind hearted angel, phenomenal physicians, and $90,000.00. Really, a price can’t be put on the beautiful, thriving, content toddler who KNOWS she is a gift from God and has two parents who WANT/WANTED her more than anything in this world.
I can still vividly remember the tears and emptiness I felt being wheeled into the operating room 9yrs ago. It was a one of many days that forever changed me and my future family. This was a day that I had fought so hard to avoid for so many years and I felt like a true failure as I conceded in defeat to the disease at 27. I wasn’t strong enough to fight through the pain anymore and left with the anguish of knowing anatomically everything making me female was essentially about to be taken from me. Even having the support of family and the few friends who knew the struggle I hid for so many years, the fear of the unknown, sense of hopelessness and emptiness consumed me. As the doctor came in that day and asked, “are you ready?” I suddenly felt alone as the negative emotions and self deprecation swirled around in my mind, but then the encouraging and eye-opening words of my husband from weeks early echoed in my ears as I sobbed and drifted away that day, “we can’t have/be a family if you aren’t here.” I hadn’t even stopped to consider the toll this disease had taken on him or the emotions he experienced as he cared for me each day as I slowly weakened. I knew logically he was right and surgery was necessary to my survival and being a mother would be the same no matter if it occurred biologically or through other means available, but it took many months, years, and ultimately our beautiful baby girl to be placed in my arms moments after her birth for me to truly believe the words my brain knew to be true all along.
We were blessed to have been able to make our family a reality given the expensive nature of adoption, ivf, and surrogacy. In the case of surrogacy, that expense also comes with the relinquishment of control, tearing down of emotional walls, and our case a beautiful relationship filled with memories that provide a lifetime of happiness.
I share my story because in awareness there is also power and healing. I know, there are so many women who suffer in silence and grimace through the fake smile while enduring such pain both physically and mentally while infertility slowly robs them of the joys life and motherhood bring. This doesn’t have to be the case. Seeing this photo reminded me of the silent suffering I endured for so long and the questions I am still asked today. I share my story openly when asked so I might help another to feel as if she has one more person to empower and stand beside her on her journey.
We are all stronger together and two are always better than one!