The Roller Coaster of Motherhood

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|This is the 37th story of Our Life Logs|


 

Motherhood was all I ever dreamed of while I was growing up. My boyfriends were all evaluated through the lens of whether they would make good fathers. My career choice was made with the thoughts of how it would impact being a mother. I built a home in Ohio, and I planned to build a family someday too. Infertility was nowhere in my family history, so it never crossed my mind that my dream might not come true.

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I’ve lived my whole life in Ohio. I was an active child. I loved playing basketball, softball, and volleyball. My mother stayed at home taking care of my siblings and me. I saw how much of an impact she left on us by being there all the time, and I aspired to be like that for my kids someday. As the eldest, I helped my mother take care of my younger siblings when she needed help. I had a brother less than a year younger, a brother who was two years younger, and a sister who was ten years younger than me. Helping my mother raise my little brothers and sister inspired a desire to have my own children someday. I also loved playing with my dolls and being their mommy. To care for the needs of another, even my pretend child, gave me so much joy.

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My brother (left) and I (right) taking care of our baby brother.

As I grew up, I planned to find a career that wouldn’t affect my dreams of motherhood too much. I considered being a teacher, so I could have summers and breaks off. In the end, I decided to pursue nursing, so I would only have to work late a few nights a week. I went to a community college for my nursing degree and began working as a nurse.

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During this time, I was struggling internally. Painful periods were the norm for me. I thought something might be wrong, but I was not prepared for the prognosis. I didn’t want it to affect my chances of pregnancy. The idea of that broke my heart.

At age 22, I found out that I had widespread endometriosis. My heart broke when I was told pregnancy would most likely not come easily for me. If I wanted children, I needed to start trying as soon as possible. At the time, I was not even married, let alone ready to start trying for a family. I was dating a guy around this time, but we had only begun to seriously date. We had known each other since we were 14, so I felt like I could talk to him and he would understand me. After my diagnosis, I told him my situation, and he was sympathetic. He knew how badly I wanted to be a mother.

We grew closer while working with kids at a local church youth camp. We often played volleyball with the kids involved in the camp. My diagnosis made him suggest that we give our relationship a serious effort. Within 18 months, we were married. From the moment I saw how he interacted with the kids at the camp, I knew he was the person for me. When I looked for a mate, it was very important how they treated children. We had the same values and interest in starting a family.

Not long after our wedding, we started working toward having children. As much as the doctors had told me we would likely encounter problems, I was in great denial that it would happen to us. After a year, it became obvious we would have to enter the world of infertility.

For three and a half years, I tried to get pregnant. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I’d have a few idle weeks until I ovulated and tried to conceive. Then my period would start, and I’d be devastated. Then my husband and I would try again. We kept trying with no luck. I’d look for every possible sign that could mean I was pregnant. I would take the tiniest sign as an indication that I was pregnant, but I’d be disappointed every single time. Each month, I’d go from hopeful to shattered. The sign of my period was like the universe spitting in my face.

I underwent many medicated cycles and a few IUI’s before my symptoms began dominating my life. I went from an athlete to a girl hardly able to get off the couch. It was debilitating, physically and mentally. My husband and I knew it was time to make the hardest decision of my life. At 28, I had to have a total hysterectomy. The door to having a child naturally had been slammed shut, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. The pain was too much, and pregnancy wasn’t going to happen. Some of the physical pain went away, but it moved to my heart.

We coasted for a couple of years after that, working on a marriage that had been stressed by the constant pursuit of pregnancy. I started working full time as a nurse. My husband and I still wanted children but were unsure if we would adopt or foster. After the emotional turmoil of trying to conceive, we needed a break to think and work on ourselves. For the time being, we were content to be a family of two and put off any major decisions.

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Then, out of the blue, I got the phone call that would change my life. My husband called on my lunch break one day. This was a common thing, so I didn’t suspect anything special. He said a mutual friend from the youth camp had contacted him. I was struck by the oddity but was not prepared for what would come next. The friend was contacted by a pregnant woman looking to place her child for adoption. Our friend asked if we were interested. He knew our situation and how badly we wanted to start a family. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe the luck we had.

We told him we were interested and tried to decide what to do next. Adoption was not on our radar, so we had some significant preparations to undertake. The baby was due in four short months, and we were frantic to be ready in time. My dream hadn’t died just because I couldn’t conceive my own child. There was still hope. I felt so blessed to have this opportunity fall in my lap.

The day the baby boy was born, we were crushed again. The mother originally planning to give us her child, chose in the end to parent the boy. This was great for the mother, but it left us heartbroken. The room made for the boy sat untouched for months. I couldn’t even bring myself to go in the room. It was too difficult to face the truth of what happened. It was like a bomb went off in my life.

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To our surprise, a month after losing the opportunity to become this little boy’s parents, we received another chance at adopting through a co-worker of mine. Her niece was pregnant and looking to make an adoption plan. We agreed, but I couldn’t get past the fear that this mother would also choose to keep her baby and break our already shattered hearts. It didn’t feel real. I kept telling myself that it may not happen and didn’t get too excited. Luckily, this time we were met with success.

My son was born and given to us in 2011. Six and a half years after starting our journey toward parenthood, our son was placed in my arms. I was finally a mother. My dream was finally fulfilled, and I felt fantastic. We were also lucky enough to get a chance to adopt a daughter a couple years later through another surprise conversation with the same friend that brought us into the adoption world. He has been the ultimate blessing in our lives. Without his help, we never would have started a family, or at least not so soon.

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My husband and me with our newborn son, 2011.

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Becoming a mother was nothing like I thought it would be. The ups and downs of the infertility and adoption world were painful to walk, but I knew the moment I met our son, I would have gone through our journey twice over had I only knew that he was waiting for us in the end. As I met my son, it all became clear to me. I had to go through the trials I did to make it to the moment with my son. Every difficult time was worth it to finally have the chance to raise my children. I learned my strength from it and the power of God through the trials, and I would not trade those lessons for the world.

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-This is the story of Amanda Ackerman-

Amanda works as a full time stay-at-home mom. She lives in Ohio with her husband, son, and daughter. Amanda’s dream of motherhood was postponed when she was diagnosed with endometriosis at 22, with little hope of successfully conceiving. With the help of a friend, she was able to get a chance to adopt children and realized that she wasn’t meant to give birth, but to raise children in need of a loving home. Her endometriosis is still a struggle for her, but she has had medication to help keep it at bay. She loves to spend time with her children and is eternally grateful that she was able to start her family despite the terrible trials she faced along the way.

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Amanda and her children.

 

 

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This story first touched our hearts on March 19, 2018.

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