Some people just know from an early age what they are destined to do, or rather their purpose in life. I had grand dreams as a child of being an airline stewardess. I would imagine traveling all around the world, and in the very next sentence talk about having family and being a mother. As I got older, my father once asked me how I expected to do both. He was very much Old School, from a generation where a mother stayed at home to raise the children, and didn’t have a job outside of the home until they were older i.e. high school age at a minimum. I was probably around nine or 10 years old at the time, and didn’t think too much about it until I saw a rescue of a plane crash from a river in the Washington D.C. area. I think in was around 1979, and what made such an impression upon me was you could see the survivors actually in the water and being air-lifted out by a helicopter. I quickly thought maybe it wouldn’t be such a good career choice despite the glamour, and settled for Plan B and raising a family.
As I think back now, I also remember the frustration of my high school guidance counselor as he helped me pick classes in a course of study for college prep. He would ask what I wanted to do after graduating, and I would reply raising a family. Once he actually asked if I had a steady boyfriend, which I didn’t (I had met Jim at the time, but didn’t know him). You can imagine his frustration with me with that reply. In the end I did attend college, but half-heartedly. By that time I had decided I was going to be a librarian. My father once again tried to change my mind, telling me that wasn’t a well paying profession, and I needed to be able to support myself. We agreed I would be taking mostly liberal arts courses to begin with and there was time to decide later. I stuck to the plan of studying Library Science, and attending SCSU for those courses in my final semesters.
My father died when I was 20 years old, and shortly there after Jim asked me to marry him. After that I changed my mind and switched my major to Sociology, because I could graduate on time with the credits I had and not attend another college away from home (and Jim). The intent was that now I would be a social worker, but it never came to pass. Once I graduated, I was making more money working part-time and within a few months of graduating was hired as a Town Employee full-time. This was a blessing in disguise for 2 reasons: one, Jim was diagnosed with cancer and the additional insurance coverage was greatly needed, and the same insurance also covered infertility treatments which resulted because of his cancer. Talk about the Lord working in mysterious ways!
Our long journey through infertility led us indirectly to embryo donation. I had so many embryos as a result of our repeated cycles, and had no idea what to do with them. I had been so intent on getting pregnant—and later maintaining the pregnancy—that I never gave a thought as to what would happen to the extra embryos we had in storage once we decided our family was complete. It was quite by chance that I contacted my infertility doctor’s office to ask them for suggestions. They mailed me several pamphlets with various options, and embryo adoption/donation was the only plausible choice. Prior to this we had never heard of it. Jim wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, but he later agreed that it would be the route we would pursue.
I chose open adoption for a few reasons, but never imagined how our choice would benefit us in the end. I was concerned that whatever children resulting from these embryos may later have health issues. There is a strong history of cancer on both our sides, and some heart issues on mine. Ryan and Joel both have different allergies, and I thought an open adoption would aid in any health issues that arose for all of our “genetic children,” my actual ones and the ones resulting from the remaining embryos. This was also around the time that stem cell research and its use in fighting disease was in the news. I thought my actual children may also possibly benefit. I also thought occasional updates would be an added bonus.
It really wasn’t until I contacted the NEDC and started working with a caseworker that I realized how we had made the right decision. The process is quite involved, and there were things we hadn’t considered. As we continued along that avenue, we were convinced we had made the right choice. Although the process is detailed, it went relatively smoothly. The Bailey’s were the only couple to contact us, and we liked them immediately. They fit my criteria of being family-oriented and having some sort of religious belief. In the end, you just want the resulting children to be cared for and loved in a nurturing environment, and we certainly chose the right family for that.
Occasionally as I prepare for our trip to Disney with the Baileys, I think of the winter Marti was on bed rest. At the time I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want any direct contact with us, but NEDC kept us informed as to her condition and progress. After talking with Marti and hearing her story of establishing a relationship with another donor family and losing the pregnancy I could understand. I also find it ironic that I didn’t know the twins had been born for nearly two weeks time, because we had been away on vacation to where else, but WDW! It wasn’t until Brian finally put in the message line that the twins had arrived that I decided it was okay to respond to his email! I had no idea who BBailey was sending me repeated emails.
Now that I have established a relationship with the Baileys and we have both blogged about our experiences, I’ve come to realize that this must have been my purpose in life. Why else would things have worked out in such a way otherwise? There were so many factors that had to come into play for the timing to be right. It all stems back to Jim having cancer. Who would have thought that such a terrible thing which resulted in so many obstacles could have such a wonderful outcome for so many people?