Diary of a Midlife Mom – September 2020 by Lin Griffith


My story begins like many other women.  As a little girl, I dreamed of marrying my prince charming one day, happily raising at least 4 children all while being the perfect wife and mom.  Sound familiar?

Fast forward about 20 years, and lo and behold, I was finding myself going through a divorce before the age of 30, and no children yet.

At the time, my family and friends tried to remain positive for me.  The reality was that I could move on with no strings attached, and there was still time to remarry and have babies.

Time. Now there is a word.  Think about what that word means to you for just a moment.

With my indefinite amount of time, I set out focusing on building on my career and education, dating once in a while, falling in and out of love, traveling, and navigating my 30s as a single woman…not an uncommon path for many women at that age.

Nevertheless, I felt there was a missing piece…..I still wanted to be a mom.  Simply put, I wanted a family of my own, and the older I got, the more I began to worry if it was ever going to happen, especially as I watched friends having babies and raising children.

Fast forward a few more years, I was now in my late 30s and met my second husband, the love of my life. I was 39 when we married and decided to try for a baby.  At first, I did not think this would be an issue.  In fact, I assumed it would be fairly easy for me.  After all, I was healthy, I worked out, and I was not yet 40.

Then suddenly I was celebrating my 40th birthday and still not pregnant.  I stopped getting the message that I had time.  At this point, my fertility window was on the verge of closing for business.  I held onto the faith however that I was still fertile, because it only takes one good egg to make a baby, and I was nowhere near menopause just yet.

If I knew then what I know now….the long journey we were in for…would I still go down that path?  Probably, but certainly armed with more knowledge about the process.

I tried what many women in my shoes try to get pregnant…tracking ovulation, timing sex (not so romantic and most certainly not spontaneous), Clomid, acupuncture, holistic vitamins and herbs and limiting gluten, I even stopped having a glass of wine with dinner (that one was tough to give up), but nothing was working.  Finally, we decided to visit a fertility specialist.

Once we agreed on moving forward with (rather costly) IVF treatment, convinced it would work like a lucky charm, I started out using my own eggs for my first IVF procedure.  We retrieved what seemed to be a healthy egg response from the hormones, but a word of caution about the realities of IVF….the quantity of eggs retrieved has little to do with the actual result, which is something many specialists will not tell you straight away…a good specialist will.

What I did not know was that it is very important to do as much of your own research and look for ‘live birth’ success rates within your age group.  Most fertility clinics will only post ‘pregnancy’ success rates which tend to result in higher numbers that make a clinic look good.  However, the reality that is hidden in that percentage is that many of those pregnancies can and do result in miscarriage, but they still qualify as a ‘pregnancy success’.

So, onto Plan B.  We began to consider donor eggs, or rather it was strongly recommended because I was over 40, and the only reason for failure had to be the age factor, apparently.  This resulted in pregnancies, which in the beginning was very exciting for my husband and I, despite the enormous expense.  He would talk to my belly, and we were planning names for a boy or girl.  I was very careful with myself and what I ate, tried not to stress, and basically just treated myself like a fragile little teacup.  And yet, my body ultimately rejected each fetus within the first trimester, two even showed strong heartbeats on the ultrasounds…which is supposed to indicate a decrease in the risk of miscarriage.  I even had one natural surprise pregnancy at the age of 42 (this one with no drugs or IVF), and yet no one could tell me why I kept miscarrying.  Worst of all, no one in the medical community even tried.

It was then that I wondered why my seemingly healthy body was rejecting my pregnancies. I had a plethora of testing done which did not point to any red flags.  My doctor had me on the highest protocol of hormones, and my husband’s sperm count and quality tested fine, so I began to research and found information on autoimmune disorders.  It would be helpful if all fertility clinics offered autoimmune testing as part of the procedure prior to IVF.  Unfortunately, many fertility doctors still do not believe that the autoimmune system can affect pregnancy development, however in my experience, I am convinced that it can.  There are many treatments available through reproductive immunologists, mainly IVIG, which suppresses the immune system and is supposed to prevent the likelihood of a foreign object such as a fetus being rejected due to a misguided autoimmune response*.

At this point, having exhausted much of our savings for many unsuccessful IVF treatments, I was done with the hormones as well as the mental and physical strain of it all, not to mention the resulting tension on my marriage.  We did not want to spend the money on anymore donor eggs and could not afford a surrogate…

…It was then that we began to consider adoption.

There are many options for adopting a child, from local foster to adopt children to independent newborn adoptions, both domestic and international.  We decided to utilize the services of an adoption law firm in California.

A note to those considering this option, adoption is not for the faint of heart. It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, countless personal profiles, home studies and it is not cheap.  We waited for almost 4 years before being chosen by a birth mom.  Adoptions can also fail for a variety of reasons, which happened to us on the first round after the birth mom decided to keep the baby.  This was a huge blow considering everything else we had been through.  I began to believe that I was not meant to be a mother.

But then, late one summer evening, we got a phone call from one of the case workers at the firm.  A beautiful baby girl had been born, and the birth parents had chosen us.  It was all very quick, and before we could truly process what was happening, we were on our way to a hospital in L.A., hoping the birth parents would not change their mind.  Within 48 hours, our lives forever changed, and a few days later, we were bringing home our new daughter.

Some people may hesitate with adoption because they fear they will not bond with a child who does not have their genetics. I can tell you from our personal experience, nothing could be further from the truth. From the day we met our daughter, I knew in my heart I would love and care for her for the rest of my life.  As as far as I was concerned, she was mine.  My husband and I immediately fell in love.  It hardly matters that she is adopted.  She has our hearts, and our love for her could not be greater.

Every day we feel blessed and grateful, and every time I look at her, I know I was not only meant to be a mother, I was meant to be her mother.  Our journey to become a family was long and arduous and did not work out exactly as we planned, but in fact it is better.

I am now 46 years old and a proud new mom.  Late in joining the game of parenthood, but I finally have my family, and with every little smile and coo and baby snuggle, I find that it’s better late than never.

No matter what you may be going through, you are not alone.  There is hope and a destiny for everyone, if you simply let go, open your heart, and endeavor to find it.

 

(*Medical references are based on personal opinion, and readers should seek the advice of a health care professional for any questions or clarification.)

 

Lin is an entrepreneur, blogger, wife, and mom living in California.  Her passions include food & wine, travel, photography and spending time with her husband, daughter and their two fur-babies Nala and Odin. 

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