Being a doula, I am often asked at interviews with potential clients, "Do you have any children?" This is a totally normal question and I understand why it is asked so frequently. I am supporting women through the birth of their own children, they want to know if I have "been there, done that." Maybe I will be supporting them breastfeeding or healing from birth and they may want someone who has had that experience. For a long time my reply was, "No, I do not have any children, yet..." I will admit that I have seen some faces of possible disappointment from the expecting mothers and I have felt (possibly of course over thinking) that perhaps I was not hired on an occasion or two because I had not "been there" before. For years I have worked as a nanny or babysitter, I have a degree in Child Development, I worked in baby retail, planned to be a teacher and spent time as a teachers assistant at a Montessori preschool etc... never did the thought of not being able to have my own children cross my mind. It was just something you do if you want to and when you want to. The reality and miracle of it was completely not thought about. Why isn't fertility talked about more? Why is this so taboo for so many?
Until this year, I had not opened up about why not. As this year came around and even towards the end of last year, as questions started to be answered, my response to an inquiry that once caused me some anguish shifted. I told myself that as the opportunity arose I was going to be open about what was occurring, I love supporting others and I was open to also begin accepting support from those I meet in my life. As the question began to keep coming in time after time, my heart would open and the words would come out, " No, I do not have any children yet. My husband and I are actually having some fertility challenges." And with that, lots of warm wishes and sincere apologies came in. Stories of successful conception and babies being welcomed overflowed. New friendships, relationships and clients came into my life, and they had "been there, done that." They have helped in building me back up and reminding my husband and I that we too may be able to successfully conceive. The overwhelming feeling I had been holding onto, that I am broken, started to ease.
This is my husband, Kripa', and I. We met online 4 years ago, he has aspirations of being an animator and I had no idea today I would be a doula, which has been the best "job" ever. From the very beginning we shared our dreams of settling down and starting a family. We have been inseperable since the beginning. Two days after we met I was going camping in a place hard to reach, but I found a way to reach him. Shortly after the camping trip, I took off to Botswana to volunteer in a village for a month, we found a way to text and occasionally talk on the phone. Kripa' joined my mom to collect me the day I flew back home, we have been together ever since.
Soon after our relationship began, Kripa' became a Manny to two boys and I started supporting families as they welcomed their babies into the world as a volunteer, Community Based Doula. I knew I found a winner, when on our first date he sat next to me on the floor at a book store and listened as I read him and cried to "Love You Forever," but it sealed the deal when I witnessed the care and compassion he gave to those boys. I couldn't wait to someday make him a father... I still can't.
Last year, June of 2012, we got married. We had known for a few months that there were some challenges we were facing in our hopes of making babies. At that point I was more of a mystery to the clinics and the hospital. On the day we exchanged our vows we included our future dreams of a family as well as incorporated a couple of children's books into our promises. We had an outpour of incredible love and support during our wedding plans and honeymoon, more than ever imaginable. Both were beyond anything we could ever hope for. Kripa' had never traveled, and getting to start sharing the world with him will continue to be a fond memory for both of us. If we had known then what we know now, we may not have gone on that epic journey, no matter how amazing it was, because soon after the news of our infertility and financial struggles would set in.
Upon our return from our European dream, I started more testing. At the beginning of this year, a Conference was held locally, "Fertility Planit," all about the journey, challenges and work that is done for families facing "infertility." Knowing we were having troubles, but not knowing exactly what, we decided to attend and begin educating ourselves the best we could. We learned that we were not alone, we were surrounded by couples facing similar situations and many more. We brushed up on nutrition, learned more about yoga, were blown away by the work being done with genetics, found out the different ways families work towards conception and came to the realization that adoption is far out of our reach but if we can not conceive then we may someday become foster parents.
Fast forward to now, a couple of months ago we got results from those tests last year... in order to conceive, our only option to TRY is IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization). Both of my fallopian tubes are blocked, from possible endometriosis scar tissue. The endometriosis has not been confirmed, but they do not have plans to go in surgically and find out unless I am having unbearable pains. What was confirmed is that the tubes are so blocked, that more than one Medical Professional has said that the likelihood of successfully unblocking them to create a path for my eggs is close to 0%. IVF will mean that I will undergo a little more testing, be put on rounds of hormones, be put to sleep and have a needle retrieve eggs from my ovaries, mix my eggs with sperm in a petri dish, freeze the embryos and a few days later have our "baby" placed in my womb.
Today was the first big step in working towards our baby goals. We had the official consultation with a Dr. we had met at the conference. When we had expressed our concerns about being a low income couple hoping to create a family, she was the one that approached us to give us hope. She listens, she explains, she is kind and gentle and she has been generous. When we found out that our IVF will cost slightly less than our annual income, anxiety grew. It is so amazing that today this modern medicine makes it possible for couples like us to start a family, but it is also so heartbreaking that the costs can make it so far out of reach and unattainable. I have always practiced the art of giving to others, it has been a growing experience to learn to accept offers from others. Today Dr. D made us feel like our family can be within reach as opposed to the Fertility Dr. that the hospital referred me to, that requires full payment in 45 days. IVF is not something that is covered by health insurance, which in my case does not matter anyhow, because I do not have any. So far all procedures have been done through the County Hospital and have been paid out of pocket. It is such a pain to go to County but I am so glad it was an option during the testing process.
We are feeling hopeful about this process and are so very thankful for our family, friends, new friends and Medical Professionals that have supported us emotionally and shared their knowledge. Despite the concerns, financial worries and uncomfortable tests and hard news along the way, we are hopeful that at the end it will all be worth it. We will be continuing to share our journey and remaining open to support, love and well wishes as we go forth in creating our family, hopefully holding a baby of our own before too long.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
Erin and Kripa'
"We love you forever,
We like you for always,
As long as we're living,
In our hearts you will be."
(paraphrased from Love You Forever by Robert Munsch)
The blog - http://www.venusbirth.com/1/post/2013/05/children-no-i-dont-have-any-children-yet.html