If I have to hear “You can always just adopt” one more time, I might actually scream. I never felt like I had a right to be included with those women that experienced infertility issues, pregnancy loss, and the like because I actually had been able to carry a child to term. I’ve had friends that have struggled with infertility, lost babies, done multiple rounds of IVF, had to be on hormone cocktails and bed rest, etc. Many of them finally were able to have healthy children, but the emotional toll was still there.
I felt guilty for putting myself anywhere near their category, because I never wanted a kid in the first place. Now, you might think my reasons for that were purely selfish. They weren’t. My parents’ divorce when I was a new teen, and the subsequent years that followed, made me never want to bring a child into this world and risk them being hurt. I have a great relationship with both my parents now, but those years in my teen and twenties were pretty horrible. I felt like it was never truly about me when I was with each of them, I felt like a pawn caught in the middle of their numerous arguments, I never felt like I was good enough… I was terrified to have a child and take the risk that it wouldn’t work out with the father and have no control over the other person whether they would always make her the priority or not.
Welp, I did end up with a child, and it did NOT work out with her biological father.
I have type 1 diabetes (T1D) and have since I was 17 years old. I was out of the country, got a rare illness, got very sick, started having autoimmune issues, my body attacked my pancreas, and the organ completely shut down. I was a health nut even as a teenager and always in the gym or going for runs and eating well and taking my vitamins. It was a huge blow to have my body betray me like that and become insulin-dependent for the rest of my life.
There are a ton of risks for T1D moms during pregnancy. Every time I hit another milestone during gestation, my doctor would alert me to another potential disaster that my high-risk status brought with it. I can’t tell you how many times my doctors told me to mentally and emotionally prepare myself if my daughter was stillborn.
I have never been so paranoid or strict with my health as I was during those precious months. Even though we did well all the way up until 38 weeks, I went into labor early and became preeclamptic. My blood pressure was dangerously high, and my baby girl became stuck in the birth canal. It was one of the most terrifying 24+ hours of my life. I went into labor around 9am that one morning, and she didn’t come into this world until 12:12pm the next day. The medicine they gave me to keep my blood pressure down made me vomit and dry heave for hours and hours on end. They were worried about me becoming too sleepy from it all, they would not give me an epidural for the pain.
I felt everything, including the fourth degree tear I experienced when they finally got her out of me (the worst the doctors said they had ever seen in all their years).
When they finally got her out (moments before they were about to do an emergency c-section), I started hemorrhaging. She wasn’t breathing. My baby girl was completely blue, lifeless, and still. I tried to get up and get to her, but they made me stay on that gurney. I was hooked up to tubes and monitors and had no idea that I was bleeding out in that moment. At least 20 nurses surrounded her and blocked her from my sight, then they rushed her up to the NICU.
It took them almost three hours to stop my bleeding, stitch me back up, and get me stable again. We were both in the hospital for a week (they wanted us to stay longer, but I begged to go home and stay with family and have doctors come check on us). I couldn’t be with her. I had to have two blood transfusions and stay hooked up to monitors, a catheter, and fluids. I share more about this in an earlier post, We Almost Didn’t Make It, but the point is – I was told my multiple medical professionals and specialists that I should not have any more children, or it was very likely one or both of us would not survive the next time.
If I truly wanted to try, I would have to go from double the appointments than a non-T1D mom that I already went through to having to do quadruple the appointments and ultrasounds. I would likely have to be on bed rest. They would not let me go back 36 weeks to ensure they didn’t risk me going into labor. It would have had to be a scheduled C-section, and the risk to a baby coming four weeks early is so much greater than what my daughter went through coming two weeks early.
When I finally met my now-husband when my daughter was 3 years old, we went back and forth on the issue and finally decided it was too great a risk. He didn’t want to take the chance of losing me, losing a child, or losing both of us. He just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. I was in my 30s, and the doctors wouldn’t even consider advising me to attempt another pregnancy at that point.
This past Infertility & Infant Loss Awareness Week, I was reading a lot of the resources other Sister Sites were sharing and Instagram posts of what not to say to women dealing with infertility or a pregnancy loss/loss of an infant. One of those that jumped out at me was to NOT tell a woman, “You can always just adopt.”
Every time I’ve been asked over the years, “Oh, you only have just the one child?”, “Why didn’t you have more?”, etc., I’ve briefly recapped my story and then inevitably get the response, “You can always just adopt.” No sh*t, Sherlock. I never thought of that! I politely tell the inquiring minds that we did try adopting, went through the whole vetting process, got our fingerprints done, had the baby for a little bit, fell in love with her, and then the courts changed their minds at the last minute and gave the baby back to the parents that had been deemed unfit to have her in the first place. It was heartbreaking. It was devastating. I still have never quite recovered, and it’s been years since then.
It’s not fair that I couldn’t have more when I finally found a man that put all my fears to rest that had prevented me from wanting a family all that time before him. It’s not fair that we didn’t get to keep that other baby girl, love her, and raise her as our own. It’s not fair that I’ve had friends miscarry, have a stillborn, infant, or never be able to conceive in the first place. None of it is fair. I’m not alone, like I always thought I was. It’s okay for me to be mad when someone has the audacity and ignorance to tell me I could’ve just adopted.
Please be mindful of the things you say – even if they are with the best intent or you think you’re being helpful. It’s hurtful. Just tell us you’re sorry, that you can’t imagine what it’s like, and leave it there. We don’t need your “helpful” advice. It’s hard enough to stay strong and stoic for all those that depend on us; we don’t need the added stress of unsolicited opinions. To all my fellow mamas that have struggled in any capacity with having children – or more children – you’re not alone either. It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to say life isn’t fair. Feel however you have to feel; don’t be ashamed of it. Holding it in for years and years is not good for your mental health. I just hope you can recognize that much earlier than it took me to. To all the moms out there, you have a place here with us at LMC. It is a judgement-free zone for all mom kind.